ADEN--- Forces from an alliance of Arab states seized two entrances to the airport in Yemen's main port city on Friday, in an offensive against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement that the United Nations fears could trigger a famine

imperilling millions of lives.

The swift advance was an important early success for the Saudi- and United Arab Emirates-led alliance, which launched the operation in Hodeidah four days ago and says it can seize the city quickly enough to avoid interrupting aid to the millions

facing starvation.

"We saw the resistance forces in the square at the

northwestern entrance to the airport," said a Hodeidah resident, referring to Yemeni allies of the Saudi-led coalition. Two Yemeni military officials allied to the coalition confirmed this.

Alliance-backed Yemeni forces tweeted that they had also seized the airport's southern entrance and were advancing down a main road towards the Hodeidah seaport.

The UAE state news agency said Houthi fighters at the airport were crumbling. However, local military sources said the Houthis have surrounded themselves with a large number of landmines, meaning that it would take some time for coalition

forces to battle their way to the main airport buildings.

Residents said battles had been fought in the Manzar neighbourhood abutting the wall around the airport.

"There have been terrifying bombing runs since the morning when they struck Houthi positions near the airport," said fish vendor Ammar Ahmed. "We live days of terror that we have never known before."

In the evening, a first ambulance made it into the area and evacuated seven wounded civilians, but two of them died before reaching hospital, a medical source said.

Apache attack helicopters hovered over Manzar, firing at Houthi snipers and fighters in schools and other buildings, said another resident, who asked not to be identified. Houthi forces had entered homes overlooking the main road to go onto the


Streets elsewhere in the city were empty despite the Eid holiday marking the end of the Ramadan fast. Houthi fighters amassed in the city centre where a hospital put out a call for blood donations, the resident said.

Aid agency CARE International quoted its last staff member in Hodeidah as saying: "The situation is very scary, scarier than it has ever been before. We can hear the fighting coming close and the situation is really changing for the worse."


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