Four Emirati soldiers have been killed in Yemen, the UAE armed forces confirmed on Wednesday as its troops lead an offensive to take a strategic port city from rebels.
First Lieutenant Khalifa Saif Saeed al-Khatiri, Agent Ali Mohammed Rashid al-Hassani, Sergeant Khamis Abdullah Khamis al-Zuwaidi and Corporal Obaid Hamdan Saeed Abdouli were named in a statement published by the Emirati state news agency WAM, without detailing the time or location the soldiers were killed.
The United Arab Emirates has been playing a key role in the Saudi-led military campaign to back President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government after Houthi rebels overran the capital and other major cities and forced him into exile.
More than 100 Emirati soldiers have been killed in Yemen since the Saudi-led intervention there began in March 2015.
On Wednesday, the Saudi-led coalition launched an offensive to retake the port city of Hodeida from the rebels, despite repeated warnings from the United Nations and international aid groups who had pulled their staff from Hodeida ahead of the assault.
The city is home to 600,000 people and is the entry point for 70 percent of Yemen's imports, including vital aid supplies for civilians in the conflict-wracked country.
Aid groups operating in Yemen have warned of catastrophic consequences from the assault, which the U.N. says puts 250,000 people in the line of fire.
The Houthi-run Al Masirah satellite news channel later acknowledged the offensive and said rebel forces struck a Saudi coalition ship near Hodeida with two missiles. Houthi forces have fired missiles at ships previously.
"The targeted ship was carrying troops prepared for a landing on the coast of Hodeida," the channel said.
Forces loyal to Yemen's exiled government and irregular fighters led by Emirati troops had neared Hodeida in recent days.
The pro-government forces are a mix of local fighters, those loyal to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and supporters of the ex-head of state, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was killed in December by his former Houthi allies.
They are backed on the ground by the UAE, while Saudi Arabia has been leading a campaign of airstrikes.
The port is some 150 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of Sanaa, Yemen's capital held by the Houthis since they swept into the city in September 2014. The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015 and has received logistical support from the U.S.
More than 10,000 people have been killed since the alliance launched the intervention, contributing to what the U.N. has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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