MEIFA HAGR, Yemen — Northern forces have closed in on the port of Mukalla, a key southern stronghold, after consolidating their hold on the Indian Ocean coast that separates the city from the south's capital of Aden.
Northern officials say the leader of the southern revolt is trapped in the Mukalla area. The claim has not been confirmed but was strengthened Sunday when a U.N. envoy who has been talking with both sides about a cease-fire flew to Mukalla.
The battle for the port involved some of the closest ground combat seen so far in the nearly 6-week-old civil war in Yemen, a poor nation of 14 million on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
Northern forces now control most of the 340 miles of shoreline from Meifa Hagr to Aden, the main stronghold of separatist leader Ali Salim Bidh, which has been besieged.