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Pro-government forces enter Yemen's Hodeida airport Open in fullscreen

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Pro-government forces enter Yemen's Hodeida airport

Pro-government forces arrive near Hodeida airport [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 June, 2018

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Taking control of the Hodeida airport would mark a military victory for the Saudi-led coalition, but rights groups warn the offensive risks sparking a fresh humanitarian crisis.

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Yemen, Hodeida
Pro-government Yemeni forces, backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, entered Hodeida airport as the fight for control of the port city intensifies. 

"With the participation and support of the Emirati armed forces, the joint Yemeni resistance (army) entered Hodeida airport," the UAE state news agency WAM tweeted. 

Fierce fighting erupted on Tuesday around the airport in rebel-held Hodeida as pro-government forces mounted a new offensive to capture the area. 

"Major reinforcements" arrived near the airport on the seventh day of an assault, pro-government commanders told AFP.

The Saudi-led coalition provided intense air cover, pounding the Iran-backed Houthi rebel positions at the airport. 

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The Houthis seized control of Hodeida along with the capital and much of northern Yemen in 2014, sparking an air intervention by the Saudi-led alliance in March 2015. 

The Saudi alliance imposed a near-total blockade on Hodeida, where more than 70 percent of Yemen's imports flow through, alleging it was a conduit for arms deliveries to the Houthis. 

Since 2015, the war for control of the Arab world's poorest country has killed around 10,000 people and triggered what the UN says is the world's largest single humanitarian crisis.

Around 22 million people are now in need of aid in Yemen, with 8.4 million on the brink of starvation, according to the UN.

The capture of Hodeida would be the Saudi-led coalition's biggest victory of the war so far, but the UN and aid groups have warned it could spark a fresh humanitarian crisis. 

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Monday that 5,200 families, or around 26,000 people, have fled the fighting within their own districts or in other areas in Hodeida governorate since fighting broke out on Wednesday. 

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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