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Dozens killed as pro-government Hodeida offensive ramps up

Yemeni soldiers, supporters of the Houthis, march during a funeral [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 November, 2018

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Saudi-backed pro-government forces have been fighting a five-month offensive against Houthi rebels in the vital port city of Hodeida, risking a fresh humanitarian crisis.

At least dozens of fighters were killed as Saudi-backed pro-government forces closed in on Yemen's port city of Hodeida on Thursday, according to hospital sources.

Medics reported that 47 Houthi rebels had been killed in overnight ground fighting and air raids by pro-government forces that have been staging a five-month assault on the vital port city. 

At least 11 soldiers had also been killed in government-held areas on the outskirts of Hodeida, according to hospital sources there.

Pro-government forces have been slowly edging into Hodedia over the past week, and the city remains one of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels' last strongholds on the Red Sea coast.

An army source in Hodeida said Houthi trenches and landmines had slowed their advance into the city.

Nearly 80 percent of Yemen's commercial imports and practically all UN-supervised humanitarian aid pass through Hodeida.

Aid groups have appealed to both the rebels and the coalition to allow civilians to escape the fighting in the city home to 600,000.

The rebels have controlled Hodeida since 2014 when they overran the capital Sanaa and then swept though much of the rest of the country, triggering a Saudi-led military intervention the following year and a devastating war of attrition.

Government forces backed by significant numbers of UAE ground troops launched an offensive to retake the city in June. 

Observers say the Saudi-led coalition backing president-in-exile Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is actively working to quash an international probe into war crimes.

In August, the UN said all warring parties in Yemen's conflict are suspected of committing war crimes, and have done little to minimise civilian casualties.

The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project has said that at least 56,000 people have died in the Yemen war, a figure much higher than the 10,000 figure given by most news agencies.

Three-quarters of Yemen's 28 million people are also in need of humanitarian assistance, with 14 million at risk of famine.

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