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.

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