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Saudi led coalition along with Emirati forces began their offensive to capture the port city from Houthi's control three days ago, raising fears for its 600,000 civilian population and over the safety of its port. Hudaidah port handles 70 percent of imports into Yemen.

The UN Security Council met behind closed doors on Thursday to address fears that a Saudi-led coalition's offensive on a key port in Yemen will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.

"We have enough food for now, but we don't know if we'll have more of it if the port completely shuts down", 18-year-old Safaa, who requested her real name to be withheld, said.

The government has spent much of its time in neighbouring Saudi Arabia since Houthi rebels seized control of Sanaa and other areas in the north-west of the country in late 2014.

They struck some 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Hodeida, in a diversion from the frontline fighting around the city's disused airport.

The United States has turned down three requests within the past 24 hours from the UAE to provide more support, including minesweepers.

The US, however, has not publicly opposed the assault but has urged the coalition to ensure that humanitarian aid deliveries to the port continue.

Yemeni pro-government forces were locked in heavy fighting with rebels that left 39 people dead on Thursday, as they pressed a Saudi and UAE-backed offensive to retake the key aid hub of Hodeida.

Human Rights Watch urged the U.N. Security Council on Friday to warn the warring parties that they will face sanctions if they fail to provide civilians access to desperately needed aid.

Two Saudi and UAE aid ships were in the waters off Hodeidah, coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki told Saudi state media.

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"We are not directly supporting the coalition offensive on the port of Hodeida", Rankine-Galloway said.

On Wednesday, the Saudi-led coalition launched a major operation to recapture the port of Al-Hudaydah - a vital supply line for humanitarian aid entering the war-torn country.

The Security Council, the only United Nations body with the power to pass legally binding resolutions, on Thursday brushed aside a call by non-permanent member Sweden for a pause in fighting to allow for talks on a rebel withdrawal from Hodeida. Even though the death toll could not be ascertained, the United Nations said last week that in a worst-case scenario as many as 2,50,000 people could be killed in the offensive.

"The liberation of Hodeidah is the cornerstone of overthrowing the financial empire built by Houthis", said Ibrahim, another Sanaa citizen.

The Saudi Royal Air Defense Forces on Thursday afternoon intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile fired by Iran-backed Houthi militias from Saada in Yemen towards the city of Khamis Mushayt, in the southern part of the Kingdom.

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi say the Houthis are a proxy force for Iran, their regional arch-rival.

Yemeni officials and witnesses said forces from the United Arab Emirates-backed Amaleqa brigades, backed by air cover from the Saudi-led coalition, were heading to eastern Hodeida province to attempt to cut off the main road that links it with the capital, Sanaa.

Guterres stressed that the International Atomic Energy Agency has reported to the council 11 times that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments.

The US marginally backs the Saudi-led coalition, and it announced on Monday that it's helping show the coalition which targets not to hit in order to limit civilian casualties. More than 22mn people in Yemen are in need of aid, including 8.4mn who are at risk of starvation, according to the United Nations, which considers Yemen to be the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

But while the request for U.S. military assistance was denied, the Emirati official said the Trump administration has publicly and privately said it supports the operation, as long as the coalition coordinates with the United Nations, takes efforts to protect civilians and continues to deliver humanitarian aid.


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