Saudi-led coalition conducts air strikes on Yemen's Hodeidah airport

Saudi-backed Yemeni forces take back airport from rebels

The aim of the coalition attack is to cut off supply lines to the rebel-controlled capital.

The Huthi rebels drove Yemen's out of the capital, Sanaa, in 2014, pushing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi into exile and sparking an intervention by Saudi Arabia and its allies the following year.

"The military operations to liberate the city of Hodeida will not be stopped until we secure the city and its strategic port and that won't last too long", he said. The port city is the main conduit through which about 70 percent of worldwide aid reaches Yemenis, many of whom are battling starvation and outbreaks of infectious diseases such as cholera.

This image grab taken from a AFPTV video shows Yemeni pro-government forces firing a heavy machine gun at the south of Hodeida airport, in Yemen's Hodeida province, on June 15, 2018.

The army on Saturday claimed it had seized the defunct Hodeida airport, which has been in Huthi hands since 2014. "They are besieged from three sides with the fourth side is the sea", Sabaa News Agency quoted a Yemeni source as saying.

On Friday, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) sent a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis that acknowledged reports that the us denied the UAE's request for "intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance" support for the Hodeida operation but still demanded answers about the USA military's ongoing assistance to the Saudi-led coalition.

The fighting is already nearing densely populated residential areas, the Norwegian Refugee Council warned, and aid distributions have been suspended in the west of the city.

At least 139 combatants have been killed since the launch of the operation on Wednesday, according to medical and military sources, a lot of them rebels.

The UAE, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition waging the war on Yemen, launched the Hudaydah assault on Wednesday despite warnings that it would compound the impoverished nation's humanitarian crisis.

The potential capture of Hodeida would be the coalition's biggest victory of the war so far.

Rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Huthi has urged his forces to put up fierce resistance and turn the region into a "quagmire" for the Saudi-led coalition troops.

The Saudi coalition carried out five strikes on Hodeida, which is a lifeline to millions of Yemenis, providing them with urgently needed food and other necessities.

The port city on the Red Sea handles more than 70 percent of the country's imports.

"The army is moving in on the Houthi militias at the airport and it nearly has entire control of the surrounding areas", said Saba. The Yemen war has claimed some 10,000 lives since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in 2015. Around two-thirds of the country's population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are already at risk of starving.

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