CAIRO (AP) — The Latest on the battle for Hodeida in Yemen (all times local):
Yemeni commanders say pro-government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition have reached a town at the entrance of the port city of Hodeida and are just “meters” from the international airport.
The Saudi-led coalition is trying to retake the port from Shiite rebels known as Houthis.
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.
A report by the Saudi-owned satellite network Al Arabiya has quoted commander Abu Zarah al-Mahrami as saying government forces are “within meters” of the airport.
Previously, a Saudi military spokesman told the channel that forces were within six kilometers (four miles) of Hodeida’s airport.
The Saudi-led coalition began its assault Wednesday on Hodeida, the main entry for food into a country already on the brink of famine.
A top Emirati official says a Saudi-led campaign to retake Yemen’s port city of Hodeida “means that the Houthis will no longer be able to impose their will at the barrel of a gun.”
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash made the comments on Twitter on Friday.
Friday marked the third day of an offensive to retake Hodeida. Emirati forces are leading irregular and loyalist forces on the ground while Saudi pilots conduct airstrikes.
Gargash also said: “If they keep Hodeida and its revenues and its strategic location, the war will last a long time and the suffering of the Yemeni people.”
An international rights group has urged the United Nations Security Council to warn parties to the Yemen war that they will face sanctions if they fail to provide civilians access to desperately needed aid.
The call from Human Rights Watch comes as a Saudi-led coalition tries to retake the port city of Hodeida from Shiite rebels known as Houthis.
HRW’s Sarah Leah Whitson said Friday “the coalition and Houthi forces, now fighting for Hodeida, have atrocious records abiding by the laws of war.”
The rights group called on all parties of the conflict to minimize civilian harm during the fight for Hodeida.
The Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s exiled government began its assault Wednesday on Hodeida, the main entry for food into a country already on the brink of famine..