Saudi-Led forces battle Shia rebels in Hodeida
June 14, 2018 -- A Saudi-led alliance of Arab states launched an attack on Yemen’s main port city in the largest battle of the Yemen war, aiming to bring the ruling Houthi movement to its knees at the risk of worsening the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.
Soldiers took the town of Nakhila in Yemen's ad-Durayhimi district, some 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) south of Hodeida International Airport, according to the government-run SABA news agency.
Fighters continued to move closer to the airport in fighting Thursday.
The Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen's exiled government launched an assault on the port city of Hodeida (hoh-DY'-duh) on Wednesday. The Red Sea port is the main entry for food into a country already on the brink of famine.
The biggest offensive of the years-long war in the Arab world's poorest nation has raised warnings from aid agencies that Yemen's humanitarian disaster could deepen.
The attack is aimed at driving out Iranian-aligned Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who have held Hodeida since 2015, and break the civil war's long stalemate. But it could set off a prolonged street-by-street battle that inflicts heavy casualties.
The fear is that a protracted fight could force a shutdown of Hodeida's port at a time when a halt in aid risks tipping millions into starvation. Some 70 percent of Yemen's food enters via the port, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies. Around two-thirds of the country's population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are already at risk of starving.