Yemeni army retakes Hodeidah airport


Aden — The Yemeni National Army on Tuesday regained full control of Hodeidah airport with the support of Arab Coalition.

Commander of the West Coast Front in Yemen Brig. Abu Zarah Al-Mahrami confirmed that the Yemeni National Army forces are in full control of Hodeidah international airport after fierce battles fought by the army with the support of Arab coalition aircraft against Houthi coup militias.

According to the Yemeni News Agency, Yemeni army forces are advancing from the southwest of Hodeidah airport to liberate the center of Durahmi directorate.

The agency cited military sources as saying that violent clashes between the Yemeni National Army and militias are taking place in the area of Wadi Nakhl Al-Rumman located on the outskirts of the center of Durahmi. The militias suffered deaths, injuries and heavy equipment losses.

Sources said Houthi militias fled toward the city, and were concentrated in residential neighborhoods taking civilians as human shields.

It was earlier reported that the Arab Coalition entered the main compound of the airport.

The UAE state news agency WAM said large swathes of the airport compound had been taken by coalition forces.

Wresting the airport from the Houthis would be an important gain for the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which pledged a swift assault on the city to avoid disrupting aid deliveries to Yemen through the port.

The coalition launched the onslaught on Hodeidah on June 12.

Hodeidah port remained open on Tuesday with the UN World Food Program racing to unload three ships containing enough food for six million people for one month, WFP spokeswoman Bettina Luescher told reporters in Geneva.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Monday the coalition was taking a measured approach to minimize risks to civilians.

He said the coalition was counting on Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy for Yemen who arrived in Sanaa on Saturday, to broker a Houthi agreement to leave Hodeidah.

But Griffiths departed Sanaa on Tuesday without comment, witnesses said, leaving unclear whether any headway was made.

Saudi Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Wasel said on Tuesday that the decision to launch military operations to restore the city of Hodeidah and its harbor from Iranian-backed Houthi militias was made by the Yemeni government after the failure of all political efforts with the militias, their continuing threat to the navigation in the Red Sea and their continued looting of relief shipments arriving at the port of Hodeidah.

He said the reason for the delay of these operations was due to the humanitarian aspect and keenness to give an opportunity to Houthi militias to withdraw peacefully to avoid humanitarian and civilian losses.

Al-Wasel said the Coalition for Supporting the Legitimacy in Yemen has announced a relief and humanitarian campaign for the city of Hodeidah and neighboring areas.

The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) continued the distribution of food baskets to needy families in Al-Khawkhah and Hays districts in Hodeidah governorate. — Agencies