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SANAA, Yemen -- 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 Sunday.

Government forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, have been advancing in the area in recent weeks as they battle Iran-allied rebels known as 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 officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, while the witnesses did so for fear of reprisal.

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.

Greece's police, fire chiefs sacked

ATHENS, Greece -- The Greek government says the chiefs of the national police and fire service have been fired in the wake of a forest fire that killed at least 90 people near Athens.

The government said on Sunday that the chiefs were replaced by their deputies.

The former chief of Hellenic Police, Constantine Tsouvalas, had been in his post since February 2016. The former Hellenic Fire Service chief, Sotiris Terzoudis, had served since February.

The changes came a day after Greece's public order minister, Nikos Toskas, resigned. Interior Minister Panos Skourletis took over Toskas' duties overseeing Greece's security services.

The death toll from the July 23 fire has risen to at least 90 after a 55-year-old woman and an 85-year-old man with extensive burns died over the weekend.

South Sudan foes sign peace deal

JUBA, South Sudan -- South Sudan's warring parties signed a peace deal on Sunday in the latest attempt to end the country's five-year civil war, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions.

President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, former vice president and rebel opposition leader, signed the agreement, said Sudan's state news agency, SUNA.

As part of the deal, Kiir will remain president and Machar will return to the country as the first vice president, one of five vice presidents. There will be an eight month pre-transitional period led by Kiir, followed by a three year transitional period. The government will include 20 ministers from Kiir's party, nine from Machar's and six from other groups, said the agreement.

This is the latest of several attempts at peace agreements and cease-fires since war broke out in 2013. The first peace agreement fell apart in July 2016 when fighting broke out in the capital, Juba, and Machar fled the country on foot. He has since been under house arrest in South Africa.

A Section on 08/06/2018

Print Headline: 80 people killed in Yemen fighting Greece's police, fire chiefs sacked South Sudan foes sign peace deal

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