Arab alliance close to capturing Hodeidah airport

Arab alliance close to capturing Hodeidah airport

UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is due to arrive in Sanaa today.

By Reuters

Published: Sat 16 Jun 2018, 12:45 PM

Last updated: Sat 16 Jun 2018, 5:30 PM

Forces from an Arab alliance entered the airport in Yemen's main port city on Saturday, the coalition-backed Yemeni military said.
Victory for the alliance in their first attempt to capture a strategic part of a well-defended city could put the Houthis in their weakest position since the conflict erupted three years ago.
A defeat would also cut off supply lines to the Houthi-controlled capital, Sanaa, and possibly force the movement to negotiate as the world's biggest humanitarian disaster ravages the country.
Col Turki Almalki: Humanitarian considerations part of the operational plan in Hodeidah
"Army forces backed by the resistance and the Arab alliance freed Hodeidah international airport from the grip of the Houthi militia," the media office of the pro-alliance Yemeni military said on Twitter on Saturday.
Troops have surrounded the main airport compound but have not seized it, a Yemeni military source and residents said.
"We need some time to make sure there are no gunmen, mines or explosive in the building," the military source said. The military's media office said technical teams were de-mining the surrounding area. 
Fighting in the airport area led to the closure of the northern entrance of Hodeidah, which leads to Sanaa, residents said.
That has blocked a key exit out of the city and made it more difficult to transport goods from the port, the country's largest, to mountainous regions. 
Around 22 million people in Yemen depend on the humanitarian aid efforts, with 8.4 million at risk of starvation. 
Air strikes, blockades and fighting have killed more than 10,000 people since the war began in 2015. A Saudi-led alliance intervened then to restore an internationally recognised Yemeni government in exile. 
The UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is due to arrive in Sanaa on Saturday. 
The Arab alliance, which launched the operation in Hodeidah four days ago, says it can seize the city quickly enough to avoid interrupting aid to the millions facing starvation. 

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