ADEN-- Heavy fighting in Yemen's port province of Hodeida between pro-government forces and Shiite rebels killed at least 80 people on both sides over the previous two days, Yemeni officials and witnesses said.

Government forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, have been advancing in the area in recent weeks as they battle Iran-allied rebels Houthis. The fighting has escalated as government forces try to retake the port city of Hodeida, the main entry point for food in a country teetering on the brink of famine.

The officials said forces backed by airstrikes from the Saudi-led coalition have been trying to seize the rebel-held district of ad-Durayhimi south of Hodeida city and at least 100 have been wounded over a 24-hour period.

The rebels have killed at least 30 United Arab Emirates-backed forces in an ambush in ad-Durayhimi, they said. Fighting has been ongoing in the district, about 12.5 miles south of Hodeida International Airport, they said.

The Saudi-led coalition launched the campaign to retake Hodeida in June, with UAE troops leading the force of government soldiers and irregular militia fighters backing Yemen's exiled government. Saudi Arabia has provided air support, with targeting guidance and refueling from the United States.

Hodeida, home to 600,000 people, is about 90 miles southwest of the capital Sanaa. The campaign to take the city threatens to worsen Yemen's humanitarian situation as it is the main entry point for food, humanitarian aid and fuel supplies to the country.

The war has left about two-thirds of Yemen's population of 27 million relying on aid, and over 8 million at risk of starving.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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