Saudi-led alliance attacks Yemen in largest strike of the war

Battle for Yemen's biggest port under way

But it could set off a prolonged street-by-street battle that inflicts heavy casualties. Despite the fighting, the port continues to operate, management of the port said, while the United Nations confirmed an aid delivery on Wednesday.

Despite the fighting, the United Nations kept up its aid supplies.

Convoys of vehicles yesterday appeared to be heading toward the rebel-held city on the Red Sea, according to videos posted on social media. "We should make no mistake, if the port is out of action, Yemeni citizens will die", according to a statement released this week from the Islamic Relief's deputy country manager based in the port city.

The TV station said the legitimate forces gathering in Al-Durayhemi district and nearby areas, around 10 km south of Hodeidah. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorised to brief journalists.

"Addressing the humanitarian situation in a sustainable and effective manner requires liberating Yemen from the control of Houthi militias which intentionally disrupt the flow and distribution of humanitarian supplies".

A Saudi-led coalition has begun an assault on the Yemen port city of Hodeida with aid agencies warning 300,000 children are at risk of being killed or maimed. There was no immediate confirmation from the coalition.

The port city, home to 600,000 people, was captured by the insurgents in 2014 along with the capital Sanaa. The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015 and has received logistical support from the U.S.

The United Nations and other aid groups already had pulled their worldwide staff from Hodeida ahead of the rumored assault.

The UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said he was continuing to hold negotiations on keeping Hodeida open and urged all sides to exercise restraint. The work in the port is normal.

"The assault on Hodeidah could have a devastating impact for hundreds of thousands of civilians - not just in the city but throughout Yemen", Amnesty International's Middle East Research Director Lynn Maalouf said in a statement.

Commenting on the situation, he said: "People are already literally dying of starvation".

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June 7, 2018: The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has pulled 71 staff members out of Yemen after a series of incidents and threats.

"I think the Emiratis have done a good job in presenting compelling arguments about why an operation (on Hodeidah) could in the end tip the balance and apply enough pressure to bring the Houthis to the table", a Western diplomat said on Monday.

October 2016: An airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition hits a crowded funeral in Sanaa, killing at least 140 mourners.

The Yemeni government-controlled SABA news agency has reported that government forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, have taken control of a town south of the port city of Hodeida.

The coalition has blocked most ports, letting supplies into Hodeida in coordination with the UN.

United Nations refugee chief Filippo Grandi said there was a danger of a more immediate crisis if Yemenis began to abandon their homes in large numbers. "We are there and delivering, we are not leaving Hodeidah", said Lise Grande, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Yemen. The sound of intense and continuous shots could be heard clearly in the background.

November 2017: The coalition imposes a complete blockade on Yemen in response to a missile fired by the Houthis at the Riyadh airport. "We hope we don't need to use them", its Yemen representative Meritxell Relano said on Twitter.

Aid workers had similar worries.

The United Nations and other aid groups already had pulled their worldwide staff from Hodeida ahead of the assault. "We thought it could not get any worse, but unfortunately we were wrong".

The new United Nations envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, tweeted that he was "extremely concerned" by the violence, calling on all parties to exercise restraint.

Two Saudi and UAE aid ships were in the waters off Hodeida, coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki told Saudi state media. It was not clear at the moment what kind of concrete support Washington offered to the operation on Wednesday.

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