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  • Houthi militants patrol a street where pro-Houthi protesters demonstrated against the Saudi-led coalition in Hodeidah.

    Houthi militants patrol a street where pro-Houthi protesters demonstrated against the Saudi-led coalition in Hodeidah. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 December 2018

Yemen's port city of Hodeidah has been seeing clashes for the past three days just before the implementation of the ceasefire. 

Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah has been witnessing clashes for three days despite a United Nations-brokered ceasefire which is supposed to go into effect Monday midnight local time.

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Residents have reported continued skirmishes, mostly at night on the outskirts of Hodeidah, where thousands of Saudi coalition-backed Yemeni troops have amassed.

"Although the violence stopped this morning, it broke out again," Kamal Abdul Ghani, a local resident, told the Associated Press news agency.

Yahya Sarea, a senior official of the Houthi armed forces, told reporters in Sanaa the ceasefire was set to start Tuesday.

"We hope they will be true to their words, otherwise we are ready to respond," he added.

A source in the Saudi-backed government confirmed the date and said it was officially communicated to both parties in a letter from U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths.

"While the Hodeidah agreement states an immediate start of the ceasefire, it is normal that it takes 48-72 hours to be communicated at the operational level," a U.N. source said. "We expect the ceasefire to be implemented starting Tuesday."

The U.N. is trying to avert a full-scale assault on the port, the entry point for most of Yemen's commercial goods and crucial aid supplies. It is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis facing starvation.

The agreement, the first significant breakthrough in peace efforts in five years, was part of confidence-building measures discussed at peace talks that aim to pave the way for a wider truce and a framework for political negotiations.

Under the deal, international monitors would be deployed in Hodeidah and all armed forces would pull back completely within 21 days of the start of the ceasefire.

A U.N.-chaired Redeployment Coordination Committee including both sides would oversee implementation and is expected to start its work this week, the U.N. source said.

Griffiths has asked the Security Council to pass a resolution backing deployment of a robust monitoring regime to oversee compliance with the truce, headed by retired Dutch Major General Patrick Cammaert.

The combatants are due to hold another round of talks in January to agree on the political framework for negotiations to end the war that has killed tens of thousands of people and spawned an urgent humanitarian crisis.

The Yemen war started in 2015 when the Saudi-UAE led coalition started fighting the Houthi rebels after they took over the capital city of Sanaa, toppling the Saudi-backed government of Hadi.

The proxy war has killed more than 56,000 people according to a study by Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine, reaching 14 million according to the United Nations.

A recent resolution passed by the United States Senate called for an end to U.S. military aid to Saudi Arabia for Yemen war. 

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