Coalition, Yemen rebels agree on informal truce

Marsha Scott
November 17, 2018

"The offensive to liberate the port city will continue to prevent the rebels from threatening the global navigation in the Red Sea", al-Maliki said in a press conference in Riyadh, aired live by Al Arabiya.

Since November 1, when clashes erupted as the Saudi-led coalition attempts to retake the strategic port from the Houthi rebels, almost 600 people have been killed, ending a temporary suspension of the offensive by the government and the coalition supporting it led by Saudi Arabia.

After almost four years of conflict in Yemen, home to what the UN calls the world s worst humanitarian catastrophe, the United States and Britain are now pressing Saudi Arabia and its allies to end the war against the Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

The port's deputy director, Yahya Sharafeddine, said the main entrance to the docks had been "the target of air raids" but was fully functioning.

Residents of Hodeida reported that the city was calm on Tuesday after a lull in bombardment during the night as Western governments stepped up calls for a halt to the offensive to pave the way for peace talks.

The worldwide community fears that an attack on Hodeidah port would disrupt its operations and endanger millions of civilians as it remains the main source of Yemen's food imports as well as humanitarian aid.

Four employees in Hodeida port who requested anonymity told AFP that a rebel commander had been killed in the Monday attack.

The coalition abandoned a previous offensive on Hodeidah last June without any gains amid worldwide concern over a humanitarian catastrophe to give peace talks a chance.

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The rebels have begun to evacuate their wounded to Sanaa, the capital, which the Huthis seized during a 2014 takeover that included a string of ports on Yemen's coastline. The deal comes just one day after UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called on Saudi Arabia to end the Yemen conflict, suggesting that global pressure could help lead to a settlement.

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the Yemeni government's fight against the Huthis in 2015, triggering what the United Nations now calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Almost 600 people have been killed since clashes erupted in Hodeida on November 1, ending a temporary suspension in a government offensive to take the city that began in June.

"The Saudi-led coalition have agreed to the evacuation of wounded Houthis from Yemen, one of the key stumbling blocks to the UN Geneva talks in September", it added.

The coalition has come under intense worldwide pressure to end the conflict in Yemen, particularly following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The coalition has been battling Iran-aligned Houthi rebels since March 2015, in a war that has killed tens of thousands of people.

The alliance accuses Iran of smuggling arms to the Houthis through the Hodeida port. But rights groups believe the toll may be five times as high.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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