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ICRC calls for unobstructed delivery of aid in Yemen

The Red Cross has claimed that it cannot land its planes full of urgently-needed medical supplies in Yemen. Pakistani delegates have left for the war-torn country as Islamabad considers involvement in the conflict.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) urged both sides of

the conflict in Yemen

to make way for desperately needed medical aid as the Houthis, a Shiite rebel group, battled forces loyal to President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

A press release on the ICRC's website

said enough medical supplies to treat up to 1,000 people were supposed to land on Tuesday, but were prevented from doing so.

The aid agency warned that the country's hospitals were running dangerously low on critical supplies as they were flooded with war wounded.

"There are casualties across the country. There have been air strikes in the north, west and south, and clashes between opposing Yemeni armed groups in the center and south, that are putting immense strain on already weak medical services," said Cedric Schweizer, leader of an ICRC team in Yemen is quoted as saying in the press release.

Pakistan considers joining the conflict

A high-level delegation from Pakistan left for Saudi Arabia to review whether to participate in

the Kingdom's coalition

fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen, Pakistani state TV said on Tuesday. The group includes Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif and National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz.

Pakistan already has hundreds of soldiers in Saudi Arabia taking part in joint exercises and has voiced support for Saudi-led airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen but has not yet decided to take part.

The Saudi government approached Pakistan last week to provide troops for its operation in Yemen, but this has

put Islamabad in a difficult position

as it enjoys close ties with both Saudia Arabia and neighboring Iran, which is accused of backing the rebels.

Karte Religionsgruppen Jemen Englisch

A geographic breakown of religious demographics in Yemen

Saudi coalition determined to press on

Overnight and into Tuesday morning, the coalition pounded rebel targets around the capital, Sanaa, which President Hadi was forced to flee last month. Medical officials said the airstrikes had killed at least 26 people during the night. Saudi Arabia has sworn to continue the strikes until "legitimacy" is restored.

The operation "will continue to defend legitimacy in Yemen until it achieves its aims, and Yemen is returned to security, stability and unity", Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said in remarks published Tuesday.

Yemen's foreign minister also called for the airstrikes to be accompanied by an Arab ground intervention "as soon as possible," on Tuesday, according to news agency Reuters.

Iran denies proxy war

At the same time, Iranian state media said that their government had delivered 19 tons of aid to the rebels, including medical equipment and food, while Tehran continued to deny that the Houthis are acting as their proxy.

"Claims about the dispatch of weapons from the Islamic Republic of Iran to Yemen are completely fabricated and sheer lies," said the foreign ministry's spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham.

es/jr (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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