Complying with the truce deal brokered by the U.N., Houthi forces have agreed to withdraw from two ports in Yemen.
Houthi rebel forces have agreed to draw back from two Yemeni ports Monday while withdrawal from the main Hodeidah port will occur later alongside a retreat by coalition-backed forces massed outside the city, U.N. and Yemeni sources said.
Houthi forces will withdraw 5 km (3 miles) from the ports of Saleef, used for grain, and Ras Isa, an oil terminal, as a first step agreed with the internationally recognized government, three sources said.
The Houthi withdrawal from Hodeidah port and the pull-back by coalition forces 1 km away from the city’s “Kilo 7” eastern suburb would take place as a second step, they said.
Orderly troop withdrawal from Hodeidah, now a focus of an almost four-year war, is key to U.N.-led efforts to avert a full-scale assault on the port and pave the way for political negotiations.
The conflict has killed more than 50,000 people and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
The United Nations has been trying to salvage a truce deal agreed at peace talks in December between the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government. That process has stalled over who would get control of Hodeidah, a Red Sea port used to feed Yemen’s 30 million people.
“This is what was agreed by the Yemeni government: we verify the first step before implementing the second,” he told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in remarks published Sunday.
A small team of U.N. observers arrived in Hodeidah after the ceasefire went into effect on Dec. 18 to oversee troop redeployments by both sides.
The Houthis, who say their revolution is against corruption, control most urban centers including Sanaa. Hadi’s government holds the southern port of Aden and a string of coastal towns.