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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 July 2018

Yemen latest: Government troops storm Hodeidah airport after fierce clashes

Technical teams are sweeping the area for landmines

Yemeni pro-government forces gather during their fight against the Houthi rebels around Hodeidah's airport on June 18, 2018. Nabil Hassan / AFP Photo
Yemeni pro-government forces gather during their fight against the Houthi rebels around Hodeidah's airport on June 18, 2018. Nabil Hassan / AFP Photo

Yemen government troops, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, stormed the airport of the port city of Hodeidah on Tuesday and seized large parts of it from the Houthi rebels.

"Many members of the Houthi militias escaped," said Wam. "Dozens of rebels, including field commanders, had been injured or killed during the operation."

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya channel reported that some rebels had escaped in the direction of the Red Sea and left behind scores of injured fighters.

"The Yemeni army is not allowing journalists into the compound until it is safe and they remove landmines [planted by the Houthis]," Al Arabiya said.

Earlier, military sources said the troops entered the main compound of the airport.

"They have stormed the airport," a Yemeni military source told Reuters. He said the forces came through after fierce battles broke out early in the morning between forces loyal to Yemeni President Abrabu Mansur Hadi and Iran-aligned Houthi fighters, who hold the city of Hodeidah.

Wam also reported on Tuesday that government troops have taken full control of the Al Manar village, west of Hodeidah's airport.

The coalition launched an offensive on Hodeidah on June 13 to drive Houthi rebels from the Red Sea port city of 600,000.

The advance on Tuesday came after UN peace envoy Martin Griffiths briefed the Security Council behind closed doors on his framework for peace talks in Yemen.

A first round of preliminary talks could take place next month to restart negotiations on a political transition, Mr Griffiths told the council, according to two diplomats in the chamber.

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Following the meeting, Russian Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky said council members renewed their call for the port at Hodeidah, the entry point for vital aid deliveries and commercial goods, to remain open.

Yemeni pro-government forces backed by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition advance in their fight against the Houthi rebels in the area of Hodeidah's airport on June 18, 2018. Nabil Hassan / AFP
Yemeni pro-government forces backed by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition advance in their fight against the Houthi rebels in the area of Hodeidah's airport on June 18, 2018. Nabil Hassan / AFP

Fierce fighting this month has displaced 5,200 families, mostly from districts south of the city, UN officials said, adding that the number of those fleeing the violence was expected to rise.

Coalition officials have said they will do everything possible to minimise casualties from the offensive, called Operation Golden Victory.