Arab warplanes and warships pounded Houthi positions in Yemen’s Hudaydah on Thursday as a Saudi-led alliance tried to seize the port city in the largest battle of a war that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Apache attack helicopters bombed a strip of coastal territory near the city’s airport, two residents told Reuters on the second day of the battle.
“The fighting is getting close to the al-Manzar area near the airport and people are fleeing in fear,” said Mohammed Abdullah, an employee of the Houthi administration in the city.
“My family left for Sanaa yesterday but I stayed behind alone to protect our home from looters,” he said.
Coalition forces were just 2 km from the airport, the Emirati ambassador to the United Nations, Obeid Salem Al Zaabi, told reporters in Geneva.
Coalition-backed Yemeni forces took control of al-Durayhmi in southern Hudaydah province, an armed forces faction said in a statement.
The United Nations is struggling to avert disruption to the port, the main lifeline for food aid to a country where 8.4 million people are on the verge of starvation.
A UN diplomatic source said five commercial vessels were offloading at the port.
The Arab coalition also struck the main road linking Hudaydah to the capital Sanaa to block reinforcements, residents and anti-Houthi Yemeni military officials said.
“The situation is dire and we don’t know how it will end,” said Khadija, a teacher in Hudaydah.
The Iran-aligned Houthis control Sanaa and most of Yemen’s populated areas. The Arab states have been fighting since 2015 to unseat them, restore an exiled Saudi-backed government and halt what they see as Iranian expansionism.
Ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who lives in exile in Saudi Arabia, arrived in Aden on Thursday in his first trip to the southern city in over a year. Aden has served as his government’s temporary capital since 2015.
“Our imminent victory in Hodeidah will be the … gateway to retrieving our kidnapped capital and exerting the influence of the government over every inch of the country,” he said.
Source: News Now | Middle East Monitor Online|