Liberation of Hodeidah and its port under way, Yemeni forces say

Spokesman says coalition now less than 15 kilometres from the city

epa06768610 Yemeni government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition take position at an area after seizing it from the Houthi militia in the western province of Hodeidah, Yemen, 27 May 2018 (issued 28 May 2018). According to reports, Yemeni troops backed by the Saudi-led coalition have moved closer to a key Houthis-held port and strategic city of Hodeidah after Yemeni government forces seized Houthis-held areas along the western coast. Most of Yemen's food and medicine imports and aid are shipped through Hodeidah port.  EPA/STRINGER
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Yemeni forces backed by the UAE military and the Arab Coalition are closing in on Hodeidah and have reached the port city's outskirts, according to a spokesman.

Colonel Sadiq Al Duweid, spokesman of the National Resistance in Yemen battling to remove the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, told Wam news agency that forces are now less than 15 kilometres from the city and 11km from its airport.

He indicated that the people of Hodeidah are staging a massive popular uprising against the Houthi militias, opposing their coup of several of the country's key population centres.

''The people of Hodeidah are eagerly waiting for the coalition and the resistance forces to liberate the city and rid them from the forces of tyranny and aggression,'' he said.

He asserted that the mines planted by the Houthi militias will not deter the National Resistance Forces from advancing towards Hodeidah city and its port, both of which are now at a stone’s throw.

''The militias are continuing to plant mines in an arbitrary manner that shows the state of panic among their ranks. The resistance engineers have managed to dismantle hundreds of mines in preparation for the salvation battle,'' he said.

Hodeidah is Yemen's fourth-largest city and its second-largest port city, representing a vital strategic asset in the three-year civil war during which the rebels have captured Sanaa and Hodeidah from the legitimate and internationally recognised government in the country.

A Saudi-led coalition that includes the UAE is battling to remove the Houthi rebels from the territory they seized in March 2015.

Riyadh says the Houthis are using the port to smuggle Iranian-made weapons, accusations denied by the group and Tehran.

The resistance forces, the spokesman noted, have seized large quantities of Iranian-made mines, munitions and weapons, which they found during combing operations.

''The Houthi militias have been dealt successive fatal military blows by the resistance forces who are on their way to liberate the Hodeidah port and cut off the lifeline of weapons smuggling from Iran,'' Col Al Duweid said.

''The liberation of Hodeidah city will teach the Houthis a tough lesson through a surprise, decisive qualitative military operation after destroying the militias' main defenses and enforcement."