Saudi-backed Forces Begin Attack On Yemen City

Saudi-backed Forces Begin Attack On Yemen City

Pro-government forces in Yemen, backed by Saudi Arabia, have begun attacking a key port held by rebel fighters.

The coastal city of Hudaydah is where most of the aid arrives for people in Yemen's rebel-held areas. Agencies have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe, report the BBC and CNN.

About eight million people are at risk of starvation in the war-torn country.

Pro-government strikes began after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels ignored a deadline to withdraw by midnight (21:00 GMT on Tuesday).

It is the first time the Saudi-led coalition of mostly Gulf states has tried to capture such a well-defended major city in Yemen.

Last week, the UN said that in a worst-case scenario as many as 250,000 people could be killed in an offensive against Hodeidah.

The city, which is currently under the control of Iran-backed Houthi rebels, is considered a lifeline for the country's war-ravaged population. About 90 percent of food, fuel and medicines consumed in Yemen are imported with 70 percent of that coming through Hodeidah, according to the UN.

The conflict has raged since late 2014, when the Houthis and allied forces seized north-western parts of the country, including the capital Sanaa, and eventually forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee abroad.