Yemen forces closing in on Hodeidah: Saudi-led coalition

Yemeni army backed by the coalition is about 20 km outside Hodeidah, Col Turki Al Maliki says

epa06768607 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

Yemeni government forces are closing in on the rebel-held port of Hodeidah, the Saudi-led coalition said late on Monday.

"The Yemeni army backed by the coalition is around 20 kilometres outside Hodeidah and military operations are ongoing," coalition spokesman Turki Al Maliki said in Riyadh.

Hodeidah's port is a vital lifeline through which most of Yemen's food and medicine is shipped. The coalition accuses the Houthis of using Hodeidah and other ports to receive weapons and ammunition from Iran. Tehran denies arming the rebels.

"Our goal is to cut the vein that the Houthis are benefiting from," Col Al Maliki said.

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Col Al Maliki's announcement came after the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said the UAE remains committed to return stability to war-torn Yemen.

"The role of the UAE in support of its brothers emerges in critical times and amid the greatest challenges, the UAE is part of a partnership that strives to keep the security of the region," he tweeted.

On Sunday, pro-government forces retook Al Zaranik camp, the latest victory in a lightning offensive towards 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

Hodaideh's airport has been declared "a military zone" by pro-government forces, according to the spokesman for the National Resistance Brigades.

The liberation of Al Zaranik followed last week's gains by Yemeni forces in retaking Hodeidah's Al Duraihami district, including Al Jah and Soul Al Zahr, as well as Al Rous in the Bayt Al Faqih district, south-east of Hodeidah.

The Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al Houthi acknowledged recent rebel losses in a rare broadcast.

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