Trump calls on Saudis to immediately end Yemen blockade

A Houthi Shiite fighter walks amid the rubble of the Republican Palace that was destroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes, in Sanaa, Yemen, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on Saudi Arabia to end its Yemen blockade immediately, citing humanitarian concerns.

"I have directed officials in my Administration to call the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to request that they completely allow food, fuel, water, and medicine to reach the Yemeni people who desperately need it," Trump said in a statement.

A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting to defeat the Iran-backed Houthis — at one point allied with ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh's forces in Yemen — since March 2015. The coalition has imposed a blockade on the country, with the aim of reinstating the internationally recognized government of Saleh's successor, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Saleh was killed Monday by his former Houthi allies after moving to switch allegiances in the bloody conflict.

Violent clashes in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, in recent days have resulted in at least 125 deaths, according to aid groups. On Tuesday, the U.N. Security Council warned of "the dire and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen," saying the country "stands at the brink of catastrophic famine."

Yemen's stalemated war has killed over 10,000 civilians and displaced 3 million.

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