Yemen rebel chief vows to ‘never surrender’

Sanaa: Yemen’s rebel chief vowed Wednesday never to surrender to Saudi-backed pro-government forces, but appeared to acknowledge his forces had lost ground in a battle for the port city of Hodeida.

“Does the enemy think that penetrating this or that area, or seizing this or that area, means we will be convinced that we should surrender and hand over control?” Abdulmalik al-Huthi said in a televised address.

“This is not happening and will not happen ever.”

Yemen’s military said government forces had advanced closer to the heart of Hodeida Wednesday, raising fears over civilian safety and humanitarian aid deliveries through the lifeline port city.

The Huthi rebels, northern tribesmen linked to Iran, on Wednesday acknowledged incursions by the Saudi-led coalition and accused pro-government forces of provoking an escalation in violence.

“The enemy benefits from its numbers, which it has increased even further to pressure the city of Hodeida,” the Huthi chief said.

Nearly 200 combatants have been killed over the past week in the fight for Hodeida, which the rebels seized along with the capital in 2014.

International aid groups on Wednesday appealed for safe passage for civilians as the clashes approach hospitals in the city.

[source_without_link]Agence France-Presse[/source_without_link]