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Coalition forces 4km from Hodeidah in new drive to recapture port city

day was focused on the airport, where a previous coalition offensive was suspended, at the eastern entrance to the city, and near the university 4km south of the port.

“This is the first time clashes have reached this point,” a pro-coalition Yemeni military source said.

Fifty-three Houthis have been killed and dozens wounded in battles and airstrikes over the past 24 hours. Military officials said coalition warplanes carried out dozens of airstrikes early on Sunday to support pro-government ground forces.

The recapture of Hodeidah would deliver a blow to the Houthis, who still control the most populated areas of Yemen including the capital Sanaa, by cutting their main supply line and forcing them to the negotiating table.

The coalition halted a previous attempt to take the city in June, to allow space for UN-led peace consultations in Geneva. However, the process collapsed in September after the Houthis failed to appear unless the UN guaranteed the evacuation of their wounded fighters.

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said last week he hoped consultations could restart within a month. He is preparing to visit Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city and a flashpoint since the Houthis drove the government out of Sanaa in 2014.

The alliance led by Saudi Arabia, with the UAE, intervened in 2015 to oust the Houthis and restore the internationally recognized government.

The latest clashes around Hodeidah erupted last Thursday just hours after the government said it was ready to restart peace talks.

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