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Saudi-Backed Forces In Yemen Launch Assault On Key Rebel-Held Port

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Pro-government forces in Yemen, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, have launched an offensive to capture a key Red Sea port held by rebel fighters.

The United Nations and aid agencies raised alarm that the assault on Hudaydah, which began on June 13, could cripple deliveries of commercial goods and humanitarian aid to about 8 million people at risk of starvation in the war-torn country.

The Saudi-led coalition has accused the Shi’ite Huti fighters of using the port to smuggle in Iranian weapons, which both Tehran and the rebels deny.

The conflict in Yemen has raged since late 2014, when the Huthis and allied forces seized northwestern parts of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.

The fighting has left about 10,000 people dead, two-thirds of them civilians, since Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states launched a military campaign in March 2015 to restore the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansur Hadi.

The vast majority of the casualties have been the result of coalition air strikes.

The conflict and a partial blockade by the coalition have left a total of 22 million people in need of humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations, which considers Yemen to be the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa, and the BBC