Saudi-led forces begin assault on Yemen port city of Hodeida
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s exiled government began an assault Wednesday morning on Yemen’s port city of Hodeida, a crucial battle in the 3-year-old conflict that aid agency warned could push the Arab world’s poorest country into further chaos.
Iranian-aligned Shiite rebels known as Houthis and their allies for years have held the Red Sea port, crucial to food supplies in a nation on the brink of famine after years of war. The battle for Hodeida, if the Houthis don’t withdraw, also may mark the first major street-to-street urban fighting for the Saudiled coalition, which can be deadly for both combatants and civilians alike.
Before dawn Wednesday, convoys of vehicles appeared to be heading toward the rebel-held city on the Red Sea, according to videos posted on social media. The sound of heavy, sustained gunfire clearly could be heard in the background.
Saudi-owned satellite news channels and later state media announced the battle had begun, citing military sources. Houthi media did not immediately report the attack.