The Pentagon has denied that it is involved in the military offensive carried out by the Saudi-Emirati alliance against the Iranian-aligned Houthi militia in the Yemeni port city of Hudaida.

Speaking on Thursday, spokesman Major Adrian Galloway said Washington “does not command, accompany, or participate in counter-Houthi operations or any hostilities other than those authorized against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS,” referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

“Our support to the coalition consists of aerial refueling to coalition aircraft and intelligence support to assist our partners in securing their borders from cross-border attacks from the Houthis,” Galloway continued.

He also said that US military support to its allies “is always geared towards mitigating noncombatant casualties.”

He stressed the importance of the port in delivering aid to alleviate the suffering of Yemenis, adding that the US supports the efforts of the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffith to bring the Yemeni parties to the negotiating table.

Before the Saudi coalition against Yemen began in March 2015, Hudaida port used to funnel in at least 80 percent of Yemen’s imports, mostly food.

Now, two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 28 million is dependent on aid to survive, and 8 million of those are food insecure.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that his country was closely following the developments in Hudaida, but did not rule out the possibility of taking part in the offensive on Yemen’s third largest city.

He said he had contacted United Arab Emirates officials and talked about Washington’s desire to discuss “UAE security concerns” while maintaining the flow of humanitarian aid and goods through the important port.

Emirati troops supported by Saudi Apache attack helicopters are just six kilometers from the Hudaida airport and the aim of this offensive is to control the port as well as the airport.

They are seeking to avoid entering the city of 600,000. UN officials stated that an offensive in the city could cost 250,000 lives.

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Photo courtesy Wikipedia of Houthi rebels