Houthis say launch missile at Aramco facility in Saudi Arabia

Houthis say launch missile at Aramco facility in Saudi Arabia

A loss or drawn-out clashes for the Saudi-led coalition would deal another blow to Riyadh's efforts to win the proxy war with regional rival Iran.

Yemeni troops backed by the Saudi and UAE-led coalition entered the airport compound in Yemen's port city of Hodeidah on Tuesday, June 19 after days of fighting with the Houthi rebels.

The coalition launched a major offensive on Wednesday to drive the rebels out of Hodeida, a Red Sea port which is the entry point for some three-quarters of Yemen's imports.

Last week Human Rights Watch called warring parties to create corridors of safe passage for civilians trapped in the city and to facilitate the flow of aid and commercial supplies.

Houthi media has reported dozens of airstrikes across Yemen in the past day, and witnesses and reporters on social media said there were bombardments around the before the coalition forces entered.

The United Nations has warned any attack on Hodeida port could cripple shipments of desperately needed aid to the 8.4 million Yemenis facing imminent starvation.

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The UN's special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, was in the country from Saturday to Tuesday seeking an agreement with the Houthis to avoid an all-out assault on the city. "We have humanitarian and development plans for when we liberate the city".

On Monday, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told a press conference in Dubai that the coalition leadership is in contact with Griffiths to secure a deal with Houthis to retreat from Hodeidah. Officials also displayed a series of drones they said showed a growing sophistication by the insurgents, starting first with styrofoam models that could be built by hobby kit to one captured in April that closely resembled an Iranian-made drone.

Hodeidah port remained open on Tuesday with the UN World Food Programme racing to unload three ships containing enough food for six million people for one month, WFP spokeswoman Bettina Luescher told reporters in Geneva. He declined to offer casualty figures for the Saudi-led coalition, though Emirati officials have so far announced the deaths of four of its soldiers in the offensive.

Still, the official said it was a matter of hours before the forces would take full control of the airport.

Iran long has denied arming the rebels, known as Houthis, despite reports by the United Nations, Western countries and outside groups linking them to the rebels' arsenal.

On the other side, Bishr said, Houthi fighters are firing back using tanks, adding that "smokes could be seen rising above the airport amid the air strikes and tanks' shelling". The war has killed more than 10,000 people in all.