WORLD

Saudi-led coalition sends thousands of troops towards Yemen port

The Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen has sent more than 10,000 new troops towards a vital rebel-held port city ahead of a new assault, Yemeni government officials said Tuesday.

The pro-government coalition deployed the reinforcements to the Red Sea coast ahead of a new offensive on Hodeida "within days", a military official told AFP.

He said they would also "secure areas liberated" from the Iran-backed Huthi rebels, and that forces from Sudan, part of the coalition, had moved in to "secure" areas around the city.

Huthi rebels have for the past 10 days been stationing fighters on rooftops of buildings in Hodeida city, government military officials told AFP.

The adjacent port is the entry point for three quarters of imports to the impoverished country, which is teetering on the edge of famine.

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government after the Huthis ousted it swathes of territory including the capital Sanaa.

The coalition has used air power to push the rebels back from much of Yemen, but the Huthis have held onto Hodeida and Sanaa.

After UN-backed talks collapsed in September, the coalition announced it was relaunching an assault on Hodeida.

The fighting has since eased and Saudi-led forces have focused their raids on the city limits and other parts of the surrounding province.

But last week strikes in the province killed dozens of civilians, the United Nations said, as the Huthis blamed aerial bombardment by the Saudi-led coalition.

The coalition has drawn heavy global criticism for the high civilian death toll from its campaign in Yemen.

The war has left almost 10,000 people dead since the coalition intervened, and sparked what the UN has labelled the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The world body warned last week that 14 million people in Yemen now face a serious threat of famine.

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