Families get food in Yemen's Hodeidah during lull in fighting

A military official in Hodeida confirmed seven civilians had died without giving further details

RIYADH- British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday said prospects for talks to end Yemen's almost four-year-old war were "more real" after Saudi Arabia confirmed its willingness to evacuate 50 wounded Houthi fighters to Oman for medical treatment.

The coalition has said that wresting control of Hodeidah would break the Houthis by cutting off their main supply line and force the group to adopt a softer stance in the negotiations to end the conflict, seen as a proxy war between Riyadh and Iran.

The Huthi rebels, who seized the Red Sea city in 2014, claimed they were mining areas across Hodeida province, airing footage late Tuesday of what they said were landmine explosions targeting pro-government forces.

Clashes between Saudi-backed troops and rebels in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida abated on Tuesday, after almost two weeks of fighting which left almost 600 people dead.

The port s deputy director, Yahya Sharafeddine, said the main entrance to the docks had been "the target of air raids" but was fully functioning.

Asked about the possibility of a ceasefire, a coalition spokesman told reporters in Riyadh that "the operation is still ongoing", adding that it was meant to pressure the rebels to come to the negotiating table. He reported three wounded guards.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned on Monday that the destruction of the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, a vital lifeline for millions of starving civilians, could trigger a "catastrophic" situation. "We heard a few gunshots here and there at night, but it seems to be calm this morning", a resident told by telephone, requesting anonymity.

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Lowcock said the United Nations was ready to play a role in "ensuring the appropriate use of key facilities, especially around Hodeida".

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis announced last Friday that Washington would support the Saudi decision to use the Saudi-led coalition's own capabilities to conduct inflight refueling missions in Yemen, indicating that the U.S. side would stop refueling the coalition aircraft.

The Saudi-led coalition has also come worldwide pressure to end the conflict following the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country s consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

"We welcome early convening of UN-led talks in Sweden", the UAE state minister for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, tweeted in English.

The alliance accuses Iran of smuggling arms to the Houthis through Hodeida Port. Tehran denies the charges.

The United States, Britain and France - three of the main arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia - have also called for an end to almost four years of conflict, particularly in the Red Sea city of Hodeida.

The U.S. and United Kingdom, major arms suppliers to the Saudi coalition, have recently called for a cease-fire in Yemen and the launch of U.N. -led political talks to end the Saudi-Iran proxy war.

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