Amnesty says panicked civilians fled hospital in Hodeida

UN chief: Destroying Yemen's Hodeida port would be 'catastrophic'

149 people killed in 24 hours in clashes in Yemen's Hodeida: medics, military

After almost four years of conflict between Yemen's Iran-linked Huthis and a pro-government military alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the fight this month reached rebel-held Hodeida, home to Yemen's lifeline port.

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.

RIYADH- British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday said prospects for talks to end Yemen's almost four-year-old war were "more real" after Saudi Arabia confirmed its willingness to evacuate 50 wounded Houthi fighters to Oman for medical treatment.

It's unclear whether the Donald Trump administration, which made a full-court press for the cease-fire late last month, will make a further push for a broader peace deal, but the news could change the UN's timetable as the world body had postponed talks until December.

The United States, Britain and France - three of the main arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia - have also called for an end to almost four years of conflict in Yemen, particularly in Hodeida.

World Food Programme chief David Beasley, who is visiting the country, said up to 14 million Yemenis were on the brink of starvation, and 18 to 19 million were now "food insecure".

A Saudi-led coalition has been battling Yemen's Houthi rebels since March 2015 in a war that has killed tens of thousands of people.

"They have repeatedly argued that taking Hodeida out of Huthi control would reduce the rebels' income and encourage them to negotiate in good faith".

"Fighting is fierce. There have been gains on the coalition side over the a year ago as they've moved up the coast towards Hodeida, but the Huthis are fighting back", said Kristine Beckerle, Yemen researcher at Human Rights Watch.

"There is only one entrance left into the port, and that is the main gate that leads to Mina Street that trucks use", one employee, who requested anonymity, told AFP.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday against the "catastrophic" consequences of a possible destruction of the port of Hodeida.

The alliance accuses Iran of smuggling arms to the Houthis through Hodeida Port. Tehran denies the charges.

Almost 600 people have been killed since clashes erupted on November 1 in Hodeida, one of Yemen's most densely populated cities. But the coalition has recently come under mounting global pressure to end the war that has resulted in what the United Nations says is the world's worst humanitarian crisis. But rights groups believe the toll may be five times as high.

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