Yemen government forces enter Hodeida airport

Yemen government forces enter Hodeida airport

Troops backed by a Saudi-led coalition stormed the airport compound of Yemen's main port city Hudaida on Tuesday after fierce battles with Iran-aligned Houthis fighting to defend their sole port, residents and Yemeni military sources said.

Witnesses said coalition warships and warplanes have been hitting the airport and the eastern side of Hodeida around the clock since late Monday, aiming to cut off the main road that links Hodeida and the rebel-held capital, Sanaa.

On Thursday last week, Saudi air defences intercepted another ballistic missile over the nearby city of Khamis Mushait, but no casualties were reported, state media said.

The war has seen over 10,000 people killed and sparked a major cholera epidemic.

The UN envoy arrived in Houthi-held Sanaa on Saturday to meet with leaders of the rebel group and convey conditions laid down by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) regarding the ongoing fight over Yemen's coastal Al-Hudaydah province.

He said that Arab Coalition operations to liberate Hodeida are aimed at allowing Yemen's legitimate government to restore security and stability to the strategic port, alleviate the humanitarian crisis and to break the deadlock in the political process.

United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths held four days of talks in the rebel-held capital Sanaa in a bid to avert an all-out battle for the city but flew out on Tuesday without announcing any breakthrough.

The United Nations says 22 million Yemenis depend on aid, and 8.4 million are on the verge of starvation. They said the driver was digging trenches for Houthi fighters.

Emirati officials said they included Iranian-labeled components inside equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets the rebels have fired across the border at Saudi Arabia. "The fighting and the sounds of explosions are everywhere and we are stuck in our house in the district of Rabsa with no running water", Iman, a 37-year-old mother of two, said tearfully. "We are now destroying Houthi fortifications near the airport", he said in an interview with Al Arabiya television from Brussels, accusing the Houthis of placing tanks inside residential areas.

Capturing Hodeidah would give the coalition of mostly Gulf states a victory in the battle for the city.

Tehran has denied the allegation.

Local human rights body, Lawyers for Liberty, says it is concerned with Malaysia's military involvement in the Saudi Arabia-led coalition war against Yemen that started in 2015 and continues to this day.

The coalition has helped pro-government forces to regain control of the south and much of the Red Sea coast but the rebels still control Sanaa and most of the north.

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