The Latest: Witnesses: Areas under siege in Hodeida battle

June 16, 2018 - 2:49 am

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The Latest on the battle for Hodeida in Yemen (all times local):

9:45 a.m.

Yemeni rights advocates and relief workers say areas adjacent to the airport in Hodeida are under siege and thousands of people are unable to leave as roads are shut down amid intense fighting.

The United Nations says hundreds of people have fled Hodeida since Wednesday, when a Saudi-led coalition began an assault to take over the vital Red Sea port town, through which most of the country's food comes.

Saber Wasel, a relief worker in Hodeida, told The Associated Press early Saturday: "Families are trapped inside and there is difficulty leaving as they are coming under airstrikes and bombardment by both parties of the war." He said that at least 70 families tried to leave the area of al-Mandhar at night.

Eshraq al-Maqtari, a member of the National Council of Human Rights, said on her Twitter account that the entire population of Mandhar, around 3,000 people, are besieged.

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8:45 a.m.

Yemeni official say Saudi-led forces have seized the airport in Yemen's rebel-held port city of Hodeida.

The military loyal to Yemen's exiled government issued a statement Saturday morning saying that engineers now were trying to remove mines left by the Shiite rebels known as Houthis.

The Houthis did not immediately acknowledge losing the airport.

Hodeida International Airport is on the south side of the city home to some 600,000. So far, fighting has yet to enter Hodeida's downtown or its crucial port.

The Saudi-led coalition began its assault Wednesday on Hodeida, the main entry for food into a country already on the brink of famine.

International aid groups and the United Nations have warned the fighting could affect food imports.

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