A Yemeni worker evacuates food bags as fire engulfs the United Nations' World Food Programme's warehouse in the coastal town of Hodeida in March. Photo: AFP/Abdo Hyder

A military offensive led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates was launched in Yemen on Wednesday, despite warnings from the international community and the US government.

The Hill reported that bipartisan groups of lawmakers, from both the House and Senate, sent separate letters to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voicing concerns on the eve of the attack.

“We are concerned that pending military operations by the United Arab Emirates and its Yemeni partners will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis by interrupting delivery of humanitarian aid and damaging critical infrastructure,” senators, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, wrote. “We are also deeply concerned that these operations jeopardize prospects for a near-term political resolution to the conflict.”

A separate letter from the House of Representatives, which garnered 34 signatures, urged Mattis to “use all available means to avert a catastrophic military assault.”

According to the report, the Trump administration tried but failed to dissuade the Saudi-led coalition from launching the offensive. Secretary of State Pompeo said in a statement Monday that the administration “made clear our desire to address their security concerns while preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and life-saving commercial imports.”

Humanitarian groups warned that an assault on the coastal city of Hodeida would further exacerbate a humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country. 80% of humanitarian aid comes through the port. The United Nations warned Friday that as many as 250,000 civilians could be killed in the assault.

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