Arab forces seize entrance to airport in Yemen's main port city

Fighting In Yemen Port City Threatens Aid Shipments

Fighting In Yemen Port City Threatens Aid Shipments

The United States rejected a UAE request for intelligence, minesweeping and airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets for the military operation in Yemen's Hodeidah, a UAE official said on Thursday.

The Emiratis turned to France, which agreed to provide the minesweepers to clear explosives that Houthi fighters had been placing in Hodeida harbor, the official said, effectively thwarting for now an amphibious assault of the port.

The Arab League said it supported the coalition, especially in Hodeidah.

A fresh Saudi airstrike on Yemeni city of Sa'ada has killed seven civilians including a woman.

"Nearly 95 percent of the causalities are because of land mines and roadside bombs", the medical official said.

A United Nations diplomatic source said five commercial vessels were offloading at the port.

Global aid agencies and the United Nations have warned the assault could shut down the vital aid route for some 70 per cent of Yemen's food, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies.

Heavy clashes killed 39 combatants outside Yemen's rebel-held port city of Hodeida on Thursday, as a Saudi and UAE-backed offensive to retake the key aid hub entered its second day. "We hope for a rapid conclusion", she said, "but we are facing a small, fanatical group of fighters armed by Iran".

The Saudi-led coalition began its air raids in support of Hadi's government in March 2015.

The Arab states say they must recapture Hodeidah to deprive the Houthis of their main source of income and prevent them from bringing in missiles.

The Saudi-led coalition launched an offensive Wednesday aimed at driving Iran-allied Houthi rebels from the port, which is the main entry point for food and aid to the war-torn country.

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The United Arab Emirates' ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva says the four Emirati troops who were killed in Yemen were taking part in the campaign to retake the port city of Hodeida.

On Thursday, coalition troops took the town of Nakhila in Yemen's ad-Durayhimi district, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Hodeida International Airport, according to Yemen's government-run SABA news agency.

The mother of two made a decision to leave her village of Taif a few days ago, "during the last few days of the holy month of Ramadan".

Debris from five missiles fired at Saudi Arabia by Yemen's Houthi group since July 2017 "share key design features with a known type of missile" manufactured by Iran and some of the components were manufactured in Iran, U.N. chief Antonio Guterres wrote in a confidential report to the Security Council.

But how significant is the assault on the port in the long course of the war in Yemen?

Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, the president of the Security Council for June, said after the meeting that the Council members are deeply concerned about the humanitarian risks of the situation.

The port is also a lucrative source of revenue for the Houthis, who have controlled most of northern Yemen since 2014.

The assault is a gamble by the Arab states, who insist they can swiftly capture the port without major disruption to aid supplies in a country already experiencing the world's most pressing humanitarian crisis.

The air attacks targeting Houthi positions have been supported by ground operations by foreign and Yemeni troops south of the Red Sea port.

The Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen's exiled government began the assault on the port city of Hodeida (hoh-DY'-duh) on Wednesday. Another Yemeni commander, Abu Zarah al-Mahrami, was quoted by Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV network as saying that pro-government forces are "within meters" of the airport.

The war has become the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22 million people - three-quarters of the population - in desperate need of aid and protection, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in April.

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