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Aid agencies sound warning as Arab alliance begins assault on Hodeida

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Coalition ground forces mass on the outskirts of Hodeida.
Coalition ground forces mass on the outskirts of Hodeida.
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The Saudi-led Arab coalition waging war in Yemen against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels has launched its biggest offensive of the campaign so far, defying international warnings that it could trigger a bloodbath.

The objective is to capture the port of Hodeida, under rebel control and its only major maritime supply centre.

But it is also the main entry point for aid, and humanitarian agencies warn of catastrophe if food and medical supplies cannot get through. The port is also rammed with refugees, many of them women and children.

The offensive is softening up the port with air strikes and naval bomabardments prior to ground troops moving in.

Some estimates say some 250,000 lives could be lost in the assault.