Government forces have recaptured an international airport in Yemen’s western Hudaydah province, military officials have said via social media.
In a Saturday tweet, the Yemeni army’s media office said government forces – backed by a Saudi-led military coalition – had successfully “liberated” the airport from Shia Houthi rebels.
Army units, it added, were currently in the process of de-mining the area.
Houthi spokesmen, for their part, have yet to comment on the army’s claims.
On Wednesday, Yemeni forces and the Saudi-led coalition launched a major operation aimed at retaking Hudaydah – along with its strategic seaport – from the Houthis, who captured it in late 2014.
Yemen’s internationally-recognized government (currently based in the port city of Aden) and its Saudi-led allies accuse the Houthis of using the port to import weapons from Iran.
Last week, the UN warned that a major military assault on Hudaydah by the Saudi-led coalition could adversely affect as many as 250,000 people.
“Humanitarian agencies in Yemen are deeply worried by the likely impact of a possible military assault on… Hudaydah,” Lise Grande, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, said in a statement released last Friday.
Impoverished Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.
The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies – who accuse the Houthis of serving as proxies for Shia Iran – launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.
The following year, UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait failed to end the destructive war.
The ongoing violence has devastated the country’s infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as “one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times”.