This still image taken from video provided by Arab 24 shows Saudi-led forces gathering to retake the international airport of Yemen's rebel-held port city of Hodeida from the Shiite Houthi rebels Saturday, June 16, 2018. With battles raging at the southern side of al-Hodeida International Airport, the military of Yemen's exiled government said it had entirely seized the facility, and that engineers were working to clear mines from nearby areas just south of the city of some 600,000 people on the Red Sea. (Arab 24 via AP)

The Latest: Coalition says Iran is arming Yemen rebels

June 19, 2018 - 11:06 am

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The Latest on the battle for the Yemeni port town of Hodeida (all times local):

6 p.m.

Officials in a Saudi-led coalition battling Shiite rebels in Yemen have shown journalists weapons they say they seized on the battlefield that show Iran is arming the insurgents.

Iran long has denied arming the rebels, known as Houthis, despite reports by the United Nations, Western countries and outside groups linking them to the rebels' arsenal.

The weapons shown Tuesday in Abu Dhabi and later at an Emirati military installation included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a "drone boat," which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.

The news conference came as the United Arab Emirates leads Yemeni fighters in an assault on the rebel-held port city of Hodeida that has been criticized by international rights groups.


3 p.m.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says heavy fighting poses a danger to the warehouses used for humanitarian aid located in Yemen's port city of Hodeida.

In its daily report, UNOCHA said Tuesday that heavy fighting has engulfed several districts outside of Hodeida city, prompting relief agencies to relocate stocks away from the fighting, from which some warehouses are becoming inaccessible.

The agency said that rapid response assistance is being distributed to newly displaced people.

The U.N. said on Monday that over 5,200 families have fled for their lives away from the fighting since the Saudi-led coalition started its campaign on June 1 wrest Hodeida from Houthi rebels.


2:45 p.m.

A senior Houthi-linked health official says the Saudi-led coalition has bombed a bus carrying civilians, killing six people on the outskirts of the Yemeni city of Hodeida.

Hodeida is the Red Sea port city where forces backed by the coalition are fighting Shiite Houthi rebels.

Yahia Sharaf Eddin says four of the dead are women and that the Tuesday strike took place in al-Gharasi district, just outside the city.

Earlier in the day, witnesses said, another airstrike killed a tractor driver and his assistant in eastern Hodeida. They said the driver was digging trenches for Houthi fighters.

The Emiratis, who are the major force behind the campaign to take over Hodeida, said they are taking all measures to avoid civilian casualties.

Saudi-led airstrikes on Tuesday heavily bombed Houthi positions and snipers who took over rooftops in Hodeida as forces battled to take control over the airport of the city.


11:35 a.m.

Yemeni military officials say fighting has escalated outside the airport of the vital Yemeni city of Hodeida, pitting thousands of pro-government fighters backed by a Saudi-led coalition against Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels.

The officials say Tuesday the United Arab Emirates-backed Amaleqa brigades, backed by air cover from the Saudi-led coalition, have been trying to storm the southern and western parts of the airport under air cover from the Saudi-led coalition.

However, they say land mines and Houthi snipers are hindering efforts to get the airport under government control.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

The coalition backing Yemen's exiled government began its assault Wednesday. Hodeida is the main entry point for food to Yemen, already on the brink of famine.

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