Saudi-led airstrike kills 7 in contested Yemen port city

Jeremy Hunt met King Salman during a day of shuttle diplomacy

Jeremy Hunt met King Salman during a day of shuttle diplomacy

UNFPA said that 10,000 pregnant women are caught in the fighting in Hodeida.

The Saudi-led coalition now "appears determined to take Hodeidah, which in my opinion will still not allow the real start of a political solution", Mr Guterres said.

Diplomatic efforts to end fighting in Yemen s Hodeida intensified Tuesday, as Britain said the Saudi-led coalition had agreed to the evacuation of wounded rebels from the country ahead of proposed peace talks in Sweden.

The Hodeida campaign has sparked fears of a new humanitarian crisis in war-hit, impoverished Yemen, where 14 million people face mass starvation.

Days of fierce street fights between Yemeni government forces and Houthi rebels for the control of the strategic Red Sea port city of Hodeidah have made it very hard for local families to flee to safe areas.

But four other port employees told AFP on condition of anonymity that a rebel commander, along with three of his guards, had been killed in Monday's bombing.

The government troops, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, have recaptured most coastal areas south of the port city since last July.

The deputy director of the port, Yehya Charafeddine, told AFP on Tuesday that the port's main entrance "had been the target of air raids [.] but the port is functioning normally".

Saudi-led coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki had no immediate confirmation of the strikes but told AFP he would check.

The Huthis, who seized Hodeida in a 2014 takeover that included the capital, on Tuesday accused the government of the attacks on the port via their Al-Masirah TV.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned on Monday that the destruction of the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, a vital lifeline for millions of starving civilians, could trigger a "catastrophic" situation.

Sources based in Hodeidah said that dozens of local families started fleeing their homes to seek shelter in the surrounding provinces.

The docks as well as Sanaa worldwide airport are under a near-total blockade by Saudi Arabia and its allies, who accuse Iran of smuggling arms to the Huthis.

The deal comes just one day after UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called on Saudi Arabia to end the Yemen conflict, suggesting that global pressure could help lead to a settlement.

The killing of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey has heightened concerns in Congress about the Riyadh government, already raised by the war in Yemen, particularly over civilians killed in Saudi attacks.

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis on Saturday said his country had halted its controversial aerial refuelling support for coalition aircraft involved in the war.

"The Saudi-led Coalition have agreed to the evacuation of wounded Houthis from Yemen, one of the key stumbling blocks to the UN Geneva talks in September".

Griffiths has said he hopes to host talks by the end of the year.

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