Arab forces seize entrance to airport in Yemen's main port city

Yemeni forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition travel to their positions during an assault on the port city of Hodeidah. EPA

Yemeni forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition travel to their positions during an assault on the port city of Hodeidah. EPA

On Thursday, as the battle for the port city of Hodeidah continued, Houthi rebel forces said that they had successfully deterred a naval attack by Saudi coalition forces to the south near al-Olifika.

Yemen has devolved into competing zones of control between Houthis, who control the capital as well as their ancestral territory in the north; Emirati- and Saudi-backed Yemeni forces in the south and Red Sea coast; and inland tribal areas where al-Qaida followers hold sway.

The Huthis suffered 30 fatalities on Thursday in clashes near Hodeida airport south of the city, medical sources told AFP.

Hodeida, home to almost 600,000 people, is some 150 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of Sanaa, Yemen's capital, which is under Houthi control.

The rights group called on all parties of the conflict to minimize civilian harm during the fight for Hodeida.

"Depriving the Houthis of their control of Hodeidah port, at the Yemeni government's request, means that the Houthis will no longer be able to impose their will at the barrel of a gun".

The U.N. Security Council has pressed for a diplomatic solution to end Yemen's three-year conflict with Shiite rebels, and has been working to relaunch negotiations with the Houthis to have them withdraw from the port.

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.

The assault began Wednesday to seize Hodieda's vital Red Sea port, known as the "mouth of Yemen" because it's the entry point of most of the country's imports and United Nations humanitarian aid.

"We are not directly supporting the coalition offensive on the port of Hodeida", Rankine-Galloway said. Military sources said the deaths were caused by mines and snipers.

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The Saudi-led coalition launched an offensive Wednesday aimed at driving Iran-allied Houthi rebels from the port, which is the main entry point for food and aid to the war-torn country.

The assault on Hodeidah, the largest battle thus far in the three-year war, is ongoing after the UN Security Council on Wednesday rejected a joint statement calling for the coalition to halt the operation. Since then, the United Nations estimates more than 10,000 people have been killed, mostly due to airstrikes.

"Should we leave the Houthis smuggling missiles?"

With logistical support from the United States, the Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out attacks inside Yemen since March 2015, killing at least 10,000 people, in an attempt to reinstate the internationally recognised government of President Abu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Hodeida is a crucial hub for humanitarian aid; two-thirds of the Yemeni population depends on food and goods flowing through the port.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the US, Khalid bin Salman, tweeted that the offensive was "critical in light of the growing threat that the Iranian backed Houthi militia poses to the maritime security of the Red Sea".

In other key findings, the secretary-general said the looking into reports from two unnamed countries that Iran received "dual-use items, materials, equipment, goods and technology" in violation of United Nations restrictions.

The US marginally backs the Saudi-led coalition, and it announced on Monday that it's helping show the coalition which targets not to hit in order to limit civilian casualties.

In a press statement after an emergency closed-door meeting, the council expressed "deep concerns about the risks to the humanitarian situation" following the launch of an offensive on Hodeida by the Saudi-led coalition. Ambassador Vasily A Nebenzia of Russian Federation, the 15-member council's president for June, told reporters that it "urged all sides to uphold their obligations under worldwide law".

Meanwhile, with UAE active participation and support, the Arab Coalition and resistance forces are advancing on multiple axes towards the Hodeidah after depleting the rebels' military and human capabilities in the a large-scale decisive operation to retake the Hodeidah city from the grip of the Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

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