Yemen officials: Coalition set for fresh assault on key port

FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, file photo, a cargo ship is docked at the port, in Hodeida, Yemen. Yemeni officials said Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018 that the Saudi-led coalition has sent reinforcements to Yemen’s west coast ahead of a fresh assault on the rebel-held port city of Hodeida.(AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The Saudi-led coalition has sent reinforcements to Yemen’s west coast ahead of a fresh assault on the rebel-held port city of Hodeida, Yemeni officials said Wednesday.

The city is a lifeline for international aid deliveries, and the battle to wrest it from the rebels has, like the rest of Yemen’s war, fallen into a stalemate.

The officials said the reinforcements arrived Wednesday in tanks and armored vehicles provided by the United Arab Emirates, a key member of the coalition that has been battling the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, since 2015.

Medical officials say that in the past 48 hours, at least 65 combatants have been killed and hundreds wounded in fighting around Hodeida and other parts of the country.

Later on Wednesday, Yemeni security and medical officials said an airstrike by a Saudi-led coalition killed five civilians and wounded eight more just south of Hodeida.

They said the victims worked at an outdoor fruit and vegetable market.

The officials had no information on what the intended target was, but it has not been uncommon for coalition jet-fighters to hit civilian targets. Since the war began, they have hit wedding parties, funerals, residential homes and hospitals. Coalition officials often blame the rebels, accusing them of using civilians as human shields.

All the officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to brief the media.

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