Threat of starvation loom as aid deliveries are blocked in Yemen

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United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has demanded an "immediate" halt to fighting in Yemen, as he warned that the country stands on a "precipice" and could face the world's "worst famine" for decades if violence continues unabated.

"Yemen has more problems than any people deserve to carry", Mattis said.

Turki al-Malki, a spokesman for the coalition, said in TV comments that no flights or global aid efforts at the airport were affected by the airstrikes targeting the al-Dulaimi Air Base in Sanaa.

The appeal came as fighting intensified in the key rebel-held Red Sea port city of Hodeida, despite growing worldwide pressure to end a conflict that has left the country on the brink of starvation. "Subsequently, coalition air strikes must cease in all populated areas in", Pompeo said in a statement.

"The global community has a real opportunity to halt the senseless cycle of violence and to prevent an imminent catastrophe", Guterres said. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also called for an end to the almost four-year conflict. The U.S. has made a call to end the war, but there was no reference to the future of its arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Muslim nations is also wary of the spreading influence in the region of Iran's Shiite theocracy, widely said to be backing the Houthis.

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Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates lead a regional coalition that is seeking to oust the Houthis and restore Yemen's internationally recognized government.

Airstrikes and naval artillery pounded rebel positions around the Red Sea costal city, where government backed-troops are launching a major ground assault in an attempt to wrest it from dug-in rebels.

Since the intervention, almost 10,000 civilians have been killed, according to the World Health Organization.

Fighting was focused around the airport, which the coalition failed to seize in a previous offensive, and also at the eastern entrance to the city and near a university that lies 4 km south of the port, which handles most of Yemen's imports.

On Wednesday, the UN International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said that 1.8 million Yemeni children under the age of five were facing acute malnutrition, and 400,000 were affected by severe acute malnutrition.

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