Hodeidah is now home to around 600,000 civilians, and around 80 percent of all humanitarian aid that flows into Yemen arrives at the city's port, which is now controlled by Houthi rebels. After the first day of fighting, the coalition failed to capture the Red Sea city or to take possession of its airport.
TRT World has obtained exlcusive footage of the beginning of the assault.
Aid agencies warned that the crucial battle in the three-year-old conflict could push the Arab world's poorest country into further chaos.
The Houthis, from a Shi'ite minority, say they took power through a popular revolt and are defending Yemen from invasion. "Should this aid not be able to flow into this port, it will put at risk millions of lives".
Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said the organisaiton would continue to deliver aid supplies. Around two-thirds of the country's population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are already at risk of starving. "The Saudi coalition has not advanced at all in Hodeidah", Dayfallah al-Shami, a member of the movement's political bureau, told the Lebanese TV channel al-Mayadeen. Worldwide observers have warned that a military fight over the port city could halt life-saving food and medicine and cause the starvation of millions.
Arab warplanes and warships pounded Houthi fortifications to support ground operations by foreign and Yemeni troops massed south of the port of Hodeidah in operation "Golden Victory".
Yemen's exiled government "has exhausted all peaceful and political means to remove the Houthi militia from the port of Hodeida", it said in a statement.
The statement on the government-controlled SABA news agency early Wednesday morning called the battle for Hodeida "a milestone in our struggle to get Yemen back from the militias".
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Four Emirati soldiers have been killed in the Saudi-led operation to retake Yemen's port city of Hodeida from Shiite Houthi rebels.
Forces loyal to Yemen's exiled government and fighters led by Emirati troops had neared Hodeida in recent days.
They announced a five-point aid plan for the Hodeidah port and surrounding areas, including the establishment of a shipping lane to Hodeidah from the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, and Jizan, a city in southern Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015 and has received logistical support from the U.S.
The United Nations and other aid groups already had pulled their global staff from Hodeida ahead of the assault. The port remains crucial for incoming aid, food and medicine for a nation driven to the brink of starvation by the conflict and a Saudi-led blockade. Several ships arrived in recent days, including oil tankers, and there was no word from the coalition or the United Nations to stop work, according to a senior port official.
The International Crisis Group warned that a battle in Hodeida would "leave millions of Yemenis without food, fuel and other vital supplies".
The Security Council has strongly supported efforts by new United Nations special envoy Martin Griffiths to resume political negotiations and avoid a military escalation of the three-year-long conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than 2 million, and created the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Workers inspect damages at the site of an air strike on the maintenance hub at the Hodeidah port, May 27, 2018.
The Houthis deployed military vehicles and troops in the city centre and near the port, as warplanes struck the coast to the south, residents told Al Jazeera. Effort to kill Trump tariffs blocked Trump stokes confusion with pledge to halt Korean war games Five takeaways from Trump's summit with Kim Jong Un MORE and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoWith caveats, Republicans praise Trump's summit with Kim Jong Un Pavlich: Pompeo: The man for the job on North Korea Five takeaways from Trump's summit with Kim Jong Un MORE on the eve of the offensive expressing "grave alarm".