Fighting rages in Yemen around Red Sea port city of Hodeida
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Heavy fighting has been raging around Hodeida as Yemeni government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition are trying once again to retake the Red Sea port city from the Shiite rebels known as Houthis, security officials said on Thursday.
They said at least 10 civilians have been killed and 19 wounded in the latest bout of fighting, including airstrikes by the Western-backed coalition fighting the rebels on the side of the internationally recognized government since 2015.
There was no immediate word from either side of the conflict on their casualties.
The officials said the fighting was concentrated in the eastern and southern approaches of the city, which is considered the lifeline of Yemen. They said Hundreds of civilians have fled their homes to elsewhere in the city to escape the fighting and that heavy smoke was rising above parts of the city.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said areas overrun by the government forces were littered with bodies of Houthi fighters.
The government forces first tried to retake Hodeida in June, but their offensive was stalemated by the rebels’ resistance. The latest offensive began last week following the failure of what was to be renewed peace talks to resume in Geneva.
One main objective of the ongoing offensive is to cut off the road between Hodeida and Sanaa, thus depriving the capital city, which is controlled by the Iranian-backed Houthis, from supplies arriving by sea. Government forces are also trying to cut off the road to Taiz, a fiercely contested and strategic city south of Hodeida.
The war against the rebels has devastated impoverished Yemen, turning the Arab nation into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 20 million people in need of assistance.