Coalition: Houthi-Iranian attack targets Saudi oil tanker west of Hudaydah port

Executive director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen claimed Houthi rebels attacked an oil tanker in the Red Sea on Tuesday.

A Saudi-led, Western-backed coalition has been at war with Iran-allied Shiite rebels known as Houthis for three years in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people and left 22.2 million people needing humanitarian aid.

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki said the attack occurred at 1:30 worldwide waters west of the port of Hodeida in Yemen, which is under Houthi control.

The tanker continued on its route "after the rapid intervention of a coalition naval vessel", the statement read.

After more than one million Yemenis were found with apparent cholera a year ago, World Health Organization is shipping vaccines to avoid a repeat of the epidemic that killed 2,267 people, he said.

The coalition said it was investigating the reports.

It was not immediately clear if the missile was intercepted by Saudi Arabia's missile defence system.

Al-Malki suggested Iran had a hand in Tuesday's attack, repeating Saudi allegations that Tehran is arming the Houthis.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the warring sides in Yemen to reach a political settlement to end the conflict in the country.

"I am optimistic about that possibility", the United Nations chief added.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched the funding drive at a conference in Geneva aiming to raise $2.96 billion (2.4 billion euros) for this year.

Noting that last year's donor conference for Yemen raised $1.1 billion, Guterres said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have provided $930 million and pledged to secure an additional $500 million from the region for 2018 while other donors have contributed some $293 million so far, which means 40 percent of the required amount for the year has been provided.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek Al Mekhlafi echoed the call for a return to the negotiating table and said that his internationally-recognised government was working to open ports and airports to humanitarian aid.

"I urge all parties to engage with my new Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, without delay", he told a United Nations conference in Geneva, where the global body is seeking pledges towards a $3 billion humanitarian plan for Yemen this year.



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