Saudi-Led Coalition Begins Battle for Vital Yemen Port

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(From AP News)

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 agencies 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 Saudi-led 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, 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.

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