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France provided minesweeping support at the UAE's request after the U.S. did not want to or was not able to, but it's not clear if the mass assault on Hudaydah received other support in the form of intelligence, surveillance or reconnaissance assets, as the Emirates requested.

Yemeni officials and witnesses said forces from the United Arab Emirates-backed Amaleqa brigades, backed by air cover from the Saudi-led coalition, were heading to eastern Hodeida province to attempt to cut off the main road that links it with the capital, Sanaa.

Arab coalition forces had fought their way to the outskirts of the airport in Yemen's main port city on Friday, in the biggest battle of a three-year war pitting it against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

The Saudi-led coalition has imposed an air, sea, and land embargo on Yemen since March 2015, aiming to dislodge the Houthis from cities they control, paralyzing trade and access to the country. "We are not planning to destroy the infrastructure; we are not planning to cause a major humanitarian impact", he said.

"It is time for the Security Council to call for an immediate freeze of the military attack on Hodeida", said Swedish Deputy Ambassador Carl Skau in a statement ahead of the meeting.

The United Nations Security Council convened an emergency session Thursday to discuss the violence, which flushed some of the organization's staff from the city earlier this week.

The airport source said that Hadi returned to Aden just few hours after the arrival of Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr along with his ministers and other high-ranking officials in Aden's International Airport. "If we can't provide what they need, they're going to be in bad trouble", Grande said.

The United Arab Emirates, a driving force in the coalition, said four of its troops were killed on the first day of the offensive.

Yemen's Shiite rebels say they have foiled a naval attack by government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition off the Red Sea port of Hodeida.

SABA reported late Wednesday the forces captured the town of Nakhilia in the district of ad-Durayhimi about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) south of Hodeida International Airport.

The Houthis generate USD30 million to USD40 million a month in revenue from the port, the UAE official estimated.

Debris from five missiles fired at Saudi Arabia by Yemen's Houthi group since July 2017 "share key design features with a known type of missile" manufactured by Iran and some of the components were manufactured in Iran, U.N. chief Antonio Guterres wrote in a confidential report to the Security Council.

The UN official further called on Yemen's warring camps "to meet their obligations to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure and... respect global humanitarian law".

"People are scared. The warships are terrifying and warplanes are flying overhead all the time", university student Amina, 22, who lives near the port, told Reuters by telephone.

The city and its port have been under Huthi control since 2014, when the Iran-backed insurgents drove the government out of the capital Sanaa and much of the country, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee into exile.

The newly appointed United Nations envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, speaks to reporters upon his arrival at Sanaa airport in Sanaa, Yemen, March 24, 2018. Pro-government forces were two kilometres south of the rebel-held airport on Thursday.

"We are not directly supporting the coalition offensive on the port of Hodeidah", Pentagon spokesman Maj. Since then, the United Nations estimates more than 10,000 people have been killed, mostly due to airstrikes.

"Any closure of the port, even for a few days, will have a dramatic impact on the humanitarian operations in the country", the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, told The Associated Press Thursday.


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