A Yemeni anti-Houthi military official said the 21,000-strong ground force - which includes Emiratis, Sudanese and Yemenis from several factions - was demining the coastal strip south of Hodeidah and combing rural areas for Houthi fighters. The UAE armed forces said last night that four Emirati soldiers were killed in Yemen, without specifying when and where.
The UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said he was continuing to hold negotiations on keeping Hodeidah open and urged all sides to exercise restraint.
The assault is the first time since the Western-backed coalition of mostly Gulf states joined the war in 2015 that they have attempted to capture such a well-defended major city.
Riyadh and Abu Dhabi see the Houthi rise as expansionism by their Shi'ite foe, Iran.
The Houthis deny they are Iranian pawns and say their revolt aims to target corruption and defend Yemen from invaders. The port is the lifeline to much-needed supplies of food and other life-saving resources and any attack would jeopardize the ability of this country to feed itself.
The Yemeni rebel group Ansar Allah (the Houthis) claimed on 13 June that it repelled an amphibious landing by the Saudi-led coalition when it hit a naval ship with two missiles earlier in the day.
The conflict in Yemen has already been described as one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world, with at least eight million people on the brink of starvation due to famine, and one million children infected with cholera.
The coalition has blocked most ports, letting supplies into Hodeida in coordination with the U.N. The air campaign and fighting have disrupted other supply lines, causing an economic crisis that makes food too expensive for many to afford.
The Iranian diplomat expressed concern about aggravation of humanitarian conditions in the impoverished country.
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Ms Bishop's opposition counterpart Penny Wong echoed concerns that North Korea might not follow through on its promise. Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said that North Korea should approach the summit with "awareness".
"As with all other coalition offensives in the civil war, the coalition would not be able to mount the Hodeidah offensive without United States refueling and intelligence support", Kate Kizer, the policy director for Win Without War, a coalition of anti-war activist groups, told Al-Monitor. "Humanitarians will not walk away", she told Reuters News Agency from the capital, Sanaa.
Britain has called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations security council, due to take place on Thursday. People were fleeing by routes out to the north and west.
Jolien Veldwijk, acting country director for the charity CARE International called the attack "catastrophic, hopeless and devastating", worsening hunger as food will become harder to find and more expensive.
The new United Nations envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, tweeted that he was "extremely concerned" by the violence, calling on all parties to exercise restraint.
Global aid groups cautioned the threat of a major humanitarian catastrophe was growing as fighting drew closer to Hodeida, with the United Nations estimating some 600,000 people live in and around the city. But it warned that the Houthis have planted mines, which could affect those efforts.
Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in an attempt to restore power to fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. "So we hold them and America responsible".
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated on Monday that the United States is "closely following developments in Hudaydah", and added the US wants to preserve "the free flow of humanitarian aid and life-saving commercial imports". 80% of humanitarian aid comes through the port.
However, the official said France had agreed to provide mine-sweeping support for the operation.
"The forces managed to liberate new strategic areas in Al Duraihimi district and areas adjacent to Hodeida airport after penetrating the Huthi militia's frontlines", the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported Thursday.