Yemen war: United Nations calls for vital port of Hudaydah to stay open

The Latest UAE says delivering aid to Yemen's Hodeida

The US rejected a request from the United Arab Emirates to provide military support to the Saudi-led coalition's operation to capture the Houthi-held port city of Hodeidah, Yemen, US and UAE officials tell CNN.

Apache attack helicopters hovered over Manzar, firing at Houthi snipers and fighters in schools and other buildings, said another Hodeidah resident, who asked not to be identified.

The Saudi-led coalition's largest assault in the armed conflict with Yemen, Operation "Golden Victory", appears not to have gone as smoothly as possible after the U.S. denied a request from the United Arab Emirates to supply intelligence, minesweeping and surveillance assets during the invasion of the key port of al-Hudaydah.

"Our desire in Hodeidah is not to infuriate the Houthis or to kill as many of them as we possibly can", he said. Warplanes also struck the main road linking Hodeidah to Sanaa to block Houthi reinforcements.

Coalition warplanes pounded coastal areas southeast of the city as residents marked the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan by gathering at dawn in an open area for Eid al Fitr prayers.

Ms Nusseibeh said the offensive to oust the Houthi rebels was "a critical step toward achieving a political solution to this conflict because we know there is no military solution".

The Iran-aligned Houthis control Sanaa and most of Yemen's populated areas.

The assault is a gamble by the Arab states, who insist they can swiftly capture the port without major disruption to aid supplies in a country already experiencing the world's most pressing humanitarian crisis.

"We are at the edges of the airport and are working to secure it now", the Arab coalition said in a statement to Reuters.

Yemen's internationally recognised government earlier said negotiations had failed to force the rebels from Hodeidah, and a grace period for UN-led peace efforts was over.

The UN's World Food Programme said the port was still operational but fears were growing for those in desperate need of aid.

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Around two-thirds of Yemen's population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are already at risk of starving.

Western countries have long given the Arab states tacit diplomatic backing and sell them billions of dollars a year in arms.

The US, however, has not publicly opposed the assault but has urged the coalition to ensure that humanitarian aid deliveries to the port continue.

Executive director David Beasley urged all parties "to meet their obligations to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure and take active steps to respect worldwide humanitarian law".

The Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen's exiled government began its assault Wednesday on Hodeida, the main entry for food into a country already on the brink of starvation.

Civilians are fleeing if they have anywhere to go, or staying and bracing for a battle.

"My family left for Sanaa [the capital] yesterday but I stayed behind alone to protect our home from looters", he added.

Riyadh accuses its regional rival Tehran of supplying the Houthis with ballistic missiles, a charge Iran denies.

"The Yemeni coast has been a strategic target for the invaders throughout history and confronting the aggression is a national duty in the face of the danger of foreign occupation".

The missile, fired towards Khamis Mushayt city and targeting civilian areas, was intercepted and destroyed by Saudi Royal Air Defense Forces.

The Emiratis turned to France, which agreed to provide the minesweepers to clear explosives that Houthi fighters had been placing in Hodeida harbor, the official said, effectively thwarting for now an amphibious assault of the port.

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