Dubai - Government forces, supported by Saudi-led coalition seized Hodeida airport from Houthi rebels on Wednesday, the coalition said, in a major step towards retaking the key Red Sea port city.
"The airport was completely cleared, Thank God, and is under control," the coalition commander for the Red Sea coast, Abdul Salaam Shehi, said in a video posted by WAM.
Government forces broke through the airport perimeter fence on Tuesday sparking heavy fighting in which at least 33 rebels and 19 soldiers were killed.
Last Wednesday, they launched an offensive to clear Hodeida of rebel fighters who have held it since 2014, raising UN concerns for vital aid shipments and food imports through the city's docks.
The airport is disused but housed a major base for Houthis just inland from the coast road into the city from the south. It lies eight kilometres from the city's port, through which three-quarters of Yemen's imports pass, providing a lifeline for some 22 million people dependent on aid.
#فيديو_وام | العميد الركن عبد السلام الشحي— وكالة أنباء الإمارات (@wamnews) June 19, 2018
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UN envoy Martin Griffiths held four days of talks in the rebel-held capital Sanaa in a bid to avert an all-out battle for the city but flew out on Tuesday without announcing any breakthrough.