TEHRAN (Press Shia) – A large number of civilians are fleeing Yemen’s Hudaydah as Saudi-led warplanes and warships continue to pound the port city, a report said.

Apache attack helicopters bombed a strip of coastal territory near the city’s airport, two residents told Reuters on the second day of the battle on Thursday. 

“The fighting is getting close to the al-Manzar area near the airport and people are fleeing in fear,” said Mohammed Abdullah.

“My family left for Sana’a yesterday but I stayed behind alone to protect our home from looters,” he said.

“The situation is dire and we don’t know how it will end,” said Khadija, a teacher in Hudaydah.

Forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition on Wednesday launched an offensive against Hudaydah, aiming to take the city that has been controlled by the popular Houthi movement. The Saudi-led coalition claims that the movement is using the key port for weapons delivery, an allegation strongly rejected by the fighters.

The offensive comes as aid groups have warned that some 300,000 children risk death, injury and starvation as they are trapped in the port city, which is the main route for food to reach most Yemenis, 8.4 million of whom are already on the verge of famine.

The United Nations has already voiced deep concern over the coalition’s full-scale attack in Hudaydah.

Despite US claims that it is not helping the coalition in the war, confirmed reports suggest that Washington is providing them with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets for the Hudaydah operation.

France has also agreed to provide mine-sweeping support for the operation, an Emirati official said.

Houthi leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi has blamed the West for the assault, saying, “The British told us a week ago that the Emiratis and the Saudis had told them they would not enter the battle of Hudaydah without their agreement and assistance.”

A Houthi statement warned commercial ships in the Red Sea, one of the world’s most important trade routes, to stay 20 miles from coalition warships or potentially face attack.