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Army reinforcements roll into Yemen's embattled Hodeida

Thu, June 21, 2018 19:55

Khokha, June 21, 2018 (News Wires) - Reinforcements rolled into Yemen's Hodeida yesterday as the army and its regional allies set their sights on the city's port held by rebels who have vowed to fight to the end.

Military sources said the army, backed by troops from the United Arab Emirates, had been sending backup troops to the area ahead of a major offensive to close in on the Red Sea port.

"Our preparations are in their final stages for the advance on the port," a military source told AFP, requesting anonymity.

The Iran-allied Huthi rebels have refused to cede control of Hodeida port, the entry point of three quarters of imports to impoverished Yemen.

The Huthis have controlled the port since 2014, when they drove the government out of the capital and seized much of northern Yemen and a string of Red Sea ports.

On June 13, Yemen's army and its allies launched their offensive to clear Hodeida of the rebels, raising UN concerns for vital aid shipments and food imports through the city's docks.

The pro-government forces announced the capture of the Hodeida airport on Wednesday morning.

The airport had been disused but it housed a major rebel base just inland from the coastal road into the city.

Rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Huthi on Wednesday night called for reinforcements to repel the advance of the UAE-backed government forces, after ongoing fighting left nearly 350 people dead in one week.

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