SANAA, Yemen — Fierce fighting raged Tuesday outside the airport of the crucial Yemeni city of Hodeida as thousands of pro-government fighters backed by a Saudi-led coalition battled Iranian-allied Shiite rebels for control of the Red Sea port – the main passageway for food and aid supplies in a country teetering on the brink of famine.

Forces with the Unated Arab Emirates-backed Amaleqa brigades, supported by airstrikes and naval shelling from the Saudi-led coalition, tried to storm the southern and western parts of the Hodeida airport. But they faced fierce resistance from rebel snipers and land mines encircling the airport.

“It is a vast, open area and the Houthis have covered the ground with land mines to prevent the forces’ advancements,” one Yemeni military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media. “It’s back and forth battles.”

Houthis are members of an Islamic religious-political movement that many believe are backed by Iran.

The Amaleqa brigades have captured dozens of rebel fighters, including minors, in the airport fighting, the official said.

The Saudi-led coalition launched the campaign to retake Hodeida on June 13.

The campaign threatens to worsen Yemen’s humanitarian situation.