Troops backed by a Saudi-led coalition stormed the airport compound in Yemen's main port city Hodeidah on Tuesday after fierce battles with Iran-aligned Houthis, residents and Yemeni military sources said.
The capture of the airport from the Houthis would be an important gain for the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who have promised a quick assault on the city to avoid disrupting aid deliveries through the port.
"They have stormed the airport," an anti-Houthi Yemeni military source told Reuters.
"This is the first time we hear the clashes so clearly. We can hear the sound of artillery and machinegun fire," a resident, who requested anonymity, told Reuters.
Warplanes bombarded the airport earlier in the morning, the resident added.
The Western-backed alliance launched the onslaught on Hodeidah seven days ago to try and turn the tables in a long-stalemated proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran that has compounded instability across the Middle East.
The upsurge in fighting has wounded and displaced dozens of civilians and hampered the work of aid groups in the port city, which is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.
The United Nations fears the offensive will exacerbate what is already the world's most urgent humanitarian crisis, with 22 million Yemenis dependent on aid, and 8.4 million on the verge of starvation.
It estimates that 600,000 people live in and around Hodeidah, and in a worst-case scenario the battles could cost up to 250,000 lives.