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During the past few days, warplanes belonging to the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition have hit the vital airport with dozens of airstrikes, as Saudi-supported militia loyal to Yemen's former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi attempt to gain ground toward the compound.

The United Arab Emirates, which has US-trained troops fighting alongside the Yemeni army, said the alliance had entered the airport in Hodeida - a Red Sea port city that is a key aid hub and the entry point for three-quarters of Yemen's imports.

Trenches, military tanks and civilians fleeing by the busload: Yemen's Hodeida, once a bustling port city, is now bracing for battles in its streets.

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.

The Amaleqa brigades, a fighting force backed by the coalition that includes the UAE, also said in a statement they seized areas on the west and east sides of the airport.

"The political moves that are being proposed are being supported by us. but the situation is now very volatile", he said. "There is death and destruction everywhere in this city".

The port remains open for incoming ships and Gargash said the UAE had plans for "airdrops" of food if necessary. No civilian casualties have yet been confirmed.

The U.N. said on Monday that over 5,200 families have fled for their lives away from the fighting since the Saudi-led coalition started its campaign on June 1 wrest Hodeida from Houthi rebels.

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Around 22 million people are now in need of aid in Yemen, with 8.4 million on the brink of starvation, according to the UN.

Capturing Hodeidah would give the coalition of mostly Gulf states a victory in the battle for the city.

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

But Senior Houthi official Dhaifullah Shami said on Twitter that Griffiths had "failed to achieve his goal and left Sanaa disappointed, without obtaining concessions".

Ambassador of UAE to Pakistan Hamad Obaid Al Zaabi has said that the intervention of the Arab Coalition in Yemen and the ongoing operations around Hodeida port are in compliance with all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and based on the request of the legitimate Yemeni government. There were no comments yet from Houthi officials.

The Houthis, who control most of the populated areas in the chronically unstable nation of 30 million people, deny the Arab states' assertions that they are puppets of Iran.

The coalition has helped pro-government forces regain control of the south and much of the Red Sea coast, but the rebels still control Sanaa and most of the north.


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