United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that Yemen is teetering "on a precipice", appealing to the global community to put an end to the Saudi war on the impoverished nation.
ADEN, Nov 4 - Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition inched closer to the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah on Sunday as they battled Iranian-aligned Houthi fighters entrenched there, local military sources and residents said on Sunday.
The airstrikes in Sanaa came days after a USA call for an urgent halt to the Saudi-Iran proxy war in Yemen and the start of negotiations in November toward a political settlement of the conflict.
The bloodshed comes despite growing global pressure to end a years-long conflict that has left thousands dead.
Leading a coalition of its allies, including the United Arab Emirates and Sudan, Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall Yemen's former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who resigned amid popular discontent and fled to the Arab kingdom.
"The Yemeni government is ready to immediately discuss all confidence-building measures", it said in a statement. Nevertheless, he added, Sanaa's global airport "remains open to United Nations and humanitarian aid deliveries".
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"Many abandoned houses, government institutions, main roads and farms were completely cleared from the Houthi-laid landmines following two days of hard work by our anti-explosives soldiers", the government forces said. Peace talks in Kuwait also failed in 2016.
Al Masirah TV, which is controlled by the Houthis, said more than 30 air strikes targeted the base and surrounding areas.
In Hodeidah city, residents already struggling to secure basic needs fear that things could get worse.
The clashes came hours after the Saudi-UAE alliance said it had bombed Sanaa International Airport and an adjoining airbase. "We hear the sound of bullets and missiles clearly", Mohammed Abdullah told Reuters by telephone.
Cappelaere added that the figures were "a reminder for all of us to realize how dire the situation has become". Without action, up to 14 million people - half of Yemen's population - could be at risk in the coming months, up from 8 million who are now facing starvation, said Guterres.
"Every 10 minutes a child dies due to diseases that can be avoided", also said Mr. Cappelaere.
The United Nations recently called on belligerents to sit at the negotiating table within a month, after unsuccessfully trying in September to hold peace talks in Geneva.