United Nations envoy hopes for talks on Yemen peace plan next month

Yemeni pro-government forces man a barricade in Al Fazah district of Yemen's Hodeida province

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.

Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi said military "operations will continue on various fronts until (the capital) Sanaa and the whole territory" are retaken from the rebels.

The UAE on Tuesday announced the government coalition had entered the airport in Hodeida - a Red Sea port city that is a key aid hub and the entry point for three-quarters of Yemen's imports.

The Amaleqa brigades, a fighting force backed by the coalition that includes the UAE, said it seized areas on the west and east sides of the airport. "We have humanitarian and development plans for when we liberate the city". "There is death and destruction everywhere in this city".

The ambassador said that the Houthi militias have exploited the Hodeida port to prolong the war and the suffering of the Yemeni people. Almost 10,000 people have since been killed. No civilian casualties have yet been confirmed.

Moreover, Kilo 16 links many internal roads in Hodeidah city, including to the port and the airport, now the main front in the offensive to recapture the city.

According to the United Nations, which has limited access to Yemen, hundreds of thousands of people have fled fighting and as many as 8 million people were on the brink of starvation.

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The UN Security Council again reiterated its call for the Houthi-held ports of Hudaydah and Salif "to be kept open and operating safely" in a press statement issued after closed door briefings by UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths and UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock.

The rebels have in recent months ramped up missile attacks against neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition that has fought the Houthis since 2015.

His efforts appeared to have failed, however, as he left the capital Sanaa without any real signs of progress.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told a news conference in Dubai that the coalition was taking a measured approach to minimise risks to civilians, and allowing the Houthis an escape route inland to Sanaa.

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.

Meanwhile Coalition forces have accused the Iran-back Houthis of directly targeting civilians in the Tehama region, north-west of Hodeidah, in direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, WAM reported.

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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