Fighting rages around airport in Yemen port city of Hodeida

Fighting rages around airport in Yemen port city of Hodeida

The UN security council - which discussed the battle on Thursday - says the Hudaida port must remain open for humanitarian deliveries.

Ahmed al-Kawkabani, who leads a force known as the Tohama Brigade, tells The Associated Press on Friday that fighting is ongoing at the town of Dawar-al-Hodeida at the outskirts of the city.

The possibility of food running out is also among the residents' main fears.

Neither Saudi and Emirati-backed government forces nor the Huthi rebels show any signs of backing down in the fight for Hodeida.

A Houthi statement warned commercial ships in the Red Sea, one of the world's most important trade routes, to stay 32 kilometres (20 miles) from coalition warships or potentially face attack.

Abu Zaraa al-Mahrami, the commander of the west coast front, said the Yemeni army and resistance forces are "only meters away from the Hodeidah Airport" after they've seized several areas and inflicted heavy losses on the Houthis.

Communications sector employee Mohammed said that the battle of Hodeidah would be a pivotal point in the course of the liberation of the whole of Yemen, which he described as transgressed upon by "Iranian militias".

The assault began Wednesday to seize Hodieda's vital Red Sea port, known as the "mouth of Yemen" because it's the entry point of most of the country's imports and United Nations humanitarian aid.

Hodeida, home to almost 600,000 people, is some 150 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of Sanaa, Yemen's capital, which is under Houthi control. He said it would take Arab forces about 72 hours to clear mines from Hodeidah's port or airport once it captures them.

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.

Fighter jets from the Saudi-led Arab coalition pounded coastal areas south-east of the city on Friday as residents gathered at dawn in an open area for Eid Al Fitr prayers, Reuters reported.

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According to a Reuters report, one U.S. intelligence official said that the UAE request for military and intelligence support was dismissed.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and a bloc of other countries intervened in Yemen the following year with the goal of restoring the government to power.

"They did not encourage us, but did not discourage us", the official said.

For its part, the Saudi-led coalition says it had no choice but to launch the assault as the port provided millions of dollars for the Houthis through customs controls.

"I urge all parties to the conflict to meet their obligations to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure and take active steps to respect global humanitarian law", David Beasleye, executive director of the UN World Food Program, said in a statement.

"Should we leave the Houthis smuggling missiles?"

Fighting on the ground is focused on the area around Hodeidah's airport, to the south of the city, and the United Nations reported that aid shipments continued to flow at Hodeidah's port.

The battle for Hodeidah "could have a devastating impact on civilians both in the city and elsewhere in Yemen", Human Rights Watch's Whitson said.

On Wednesday, the Saudi-led coalition launched a major operation to recapture the port of Al-Hudaydah - a vital supply line for humanitarian aid entering the war-torn country.

The port is also a lucrative source of revenue for the Houthis, who control most of Yemen's north since 2014.

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