In this Feb. 12, 2018 photo, Saudi-backed forces, part of Ahmed al-Kawkabani's, southern resistance unit in Hodeida, patrol in Hodeida, Yemen. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
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Pro-government forces in Yemen are preparing to surround a key Red Sea port in a bid to force Houthi rebels to surrender it without a fight, military sources said Wednesday.At least 60 fighters were killed in the latest clashes and airstrikes, according to medical sources.Loyalist fighters backed by Saudi and Emirati forces are sending reinforcements ahead of a "new operation" to enter Hudaida city and seize its port, a commander from one of the forces said.Hudaida port is the main conduit for humanitarian aid into Yemen, where years of war have left some 22 million people in need of food aid.Troops are now 13 kilometers from Hudaida, a city in the hands of Yemen's Shiite rebels known as Houthis, but need time to prepare for a "swift takeover with minimal casualties," said Ahmed al-Kawkabani, who leads a force known as Tohama Brigade.Seven pro-government fighters were killed and 14 wounded, according to medical sources in Hudaida province, while at least 53 rebels also died.
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