Control of the airport would be an important early success for the coalition fighting to seize the country's largest port from the Iran-aligned Houthis, in the biggest battle of a three-year war. Another Yemeni commander, Abu Zarah al-Mahrami, was quoted by Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV network as saying that pro-government forces were "within meters" of the airport.
The World Health Organization has expressed concern over the fighting in and around the Yemeni port city of Hodeida, calling for unbroken aid access and protection of health workers.
"We are not giving up", a Security Council diplomat said.
For his part, Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi asserted that Yemeni forces would continue fighting until the liberation of the strategic port city of Hodeidah and all Houthi-controlled areas, including Sanaa.
Military and medical sources told Efe news that more than 300 personnel belonging to both the Houthis and Yemeni forces were killed in the last two days of the offensive, while more than 550 were injured. The UAE also acknowledged "the port remains open and operational".
The newspaper did not provide any additional details. The Defence Ministry was not immediately available for comment, but its usual policy is not to comment on special forces' operations.
Humanitarian organisations have been forced to pause nearly all operations in Hodeidah, it said. The aim would be to help humanitarian aid get to the city.
The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies - who accuse the Houthis of serving as proxies for Shia Iran - launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains. Those who planned to stay were stocking up on food and fuel in anticipation of a siege, it added.
"An action to de-mine access to the port of Hodeidah after the end of military operations is now under study".
Military officials said preparations are underway to make a final push to take over the airport and that the ground battles had largely subsided by sunset. The rebels are then expected to have no choice but to head to the northern province of Hajjah.
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They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to the press.
Thousands of civilians have been evacuating districts surrounding Hodeidah's airport Saturday as a Saudi-led coalition closes in on the Houthi-held city in Yemen, according to two sources.
Ahmed al-Haj in Sanaa.
"The army forces are encircling the airport and have only been able to liberate its main gates while Houthi fighters are still inside it", a resident contacted by dpa said.
The blockade has caused a countrywide starvation, and the United Nations recently declared the situation there the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Eshraq al-Maqtari, a member of the National Council of Human Rights, said on her Twitter account that the entire population of Mandhar, around 3,000 people, are besieged.
Yemeni pro-government forces fire on rebel positions around Hodeida's disused airport as they press a Saudi- and Emirati-backed offensive on the Red Sea port city on Jun 15, 2018. Hadi fled the country after separatist movements and military disloyalty allowed the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel movement to gain control over parts of the country, including the capital city of Sana'a.
He did not speak to reporters on his arrival at Sanaa worldwide airport.
While recognising the crucial function of Hodeidah port in providing aid, the statement added that "US military support to our partners is always geared towards mitigating noncombatant casualties".