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SANAA, Yemen — Troops from a U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition pounded Houthi rebel positions in Yemen’s Hodeida with airstrikes and a ground assault Wednesday and now control a major road leading into the city, military officials and witnesses on both sides of the front line said.

An Emirati-trained force known as the Giants, backed by Apache attack helicopters, secured an urban area along 50th Street, which leads to the city’s key Red Sea port facilities some 3 miles away, they added.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals or lack of authorization to brief journalists, they said the Iran-backed Shiite rebels had been firing mainly from elevated and rooftop sniper positions, and have now resorted to burning tires to obscure the gunships’ view. Most civilians have fled the area, they said.

Dozens of fighters have been killed and hundreds wounded from both sides since a renewed coalition offensive on the city began five days ago, after calls by President Donald Trump’s administration for a cease-fire by late November.

The fighting has left dead bodies lying on the ground and inside burnt-out vehicles at the city’s edge, according to witnesses. They said several civilians have been killed by shelling in residential areas.

The Saudi-led coalition, which seeks to restore to power the internationally recognized Yemeni government, has been at war with the Houthis since March 2015. The stalemated conflict has generated the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Hodeida, the main portal for humanitarian aid to the suffering population, has become the epicenter of the conflict.

A Save the Children supported health facility in Hodeida came under attack Tuesday morning, damaging one of the pharmacies that supply life-saving medicines, the charity said in a statement.

The group said shelling has also hit residential areas in Hodeida, where the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, roughly half of them children, are in danger.

The charity did not elaborate on which group attacked the facility.

Also Wednesday, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders said it was closing its humanitarian project in the southern Dhale province because of security concerns amid the fighting there.

Print Headline: Airstrikes target rebels in Yemen

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