May 27, 2015 / 7:43 AM / 5 years ago

Arab forces strike Houthi-held Yemen military port - local official

CAIRO (Reuters) - Arab warplanes and ships bombed Yemen’s largest military port in the Red Sea city of Hodaida on Wednesday, a local official said, in the most serious attack on the country’s navy in over two months of war.

The city and its military bases are aligned with the Iran-allied Houthi militia, Yemen’s dominant force, which a Saudi-led coalition has bombed since March 26 to try to reverse an expansion of Houthi power across the country in recent months.

“The naval base was bombed by aircraft and ships. Large parts of it were destroyed and two warships were hit, and one of them, named Bilqis, was destroyed and sank onto its side, and five gunboats shelled the administrative buildings of the base,” the official told Reuters by telephone from the city.

Residents of the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa reported air strikes on military camps loyal to the group on Wednesday.

Houthi forces shelled the southern city of Aden, a bastion of resistance against their advances into Yemen’s south, and local fighters built on gains against the Houthis in recent days by seizing their last military post in the nearby city of Dalea.

Sunni Muslim states fear the Shi’ite Houthis are a proxy for the influence of their arch rival Iran in the Arabian Peninsula.

Yemen’s exiled government in Saudi Arabia has said the group must recognise its authority and quit Yemen’s main cities before any talks.

The United Nations said on Tuesday U.N.-backed negotiations which were set for May 28 in Geneva had been postponed.

“The secretary-general is disappointed that it has not been possible to commence such an important initiative at the soonest possible date and reiterates his call for all parties to engage in United Nations-facilitated consultations in good faith and without preconditions,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday.

Reporting By Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Noah Browning, Editing by William Maclean and Ralph Boulton

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