26 August 2019

Yemen's Houthis begin withdrawal from Hodeidah ports in boost to peace deal: Page 2 of 2

U.N. ASSESSMENT NEXT WEEK

It was not clear if U.N. special envoy Martin Griffiths had secured agreement between the two sides over the main sticking point regarding which local authorities would control the ports and city under U.N. supervision after both sides withdraw.

The coalition had disputed an earlier unilateral withdrawal by the Houthis from Hodeidah port in December, saying they had handed it over to coast guard members loyal to the group.

A U.N. source told Reuters on Saturday that the RCC would announce its assessment of the Houthi redeployment next week.

Under the first phase, the Houthis would pull back five km (three miles) from the ports over the next four days. Coalition forces, currently massed four km from Hodeidah port on the edges of the city, would retreat one km from “Kilo 8” and Saleh districts.

In the second phase, both sides would pull troops 18 km outside the city and heavy weapons 30 km away.

The United Nations secured the Hodeidah deal at peace talks in Sweden, the first in two years, to avert a full-scale assault on the port that risked triggering mass famine.

The pact is also a trust-building step to pave the way for wider political negotiations to end the conflict, widely seen in the region as a proxy between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The alliance led by Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen in 2015 after the Houthis ousted the internationally recognized government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The ceasefire in Hodeidah has largely held but the fighting escalated elsewhere in Yemen.

On Saturday, the Houthis’ Masirah TV channel said “enemy air bombing” killed six children and a woman, and injured 11 children and five women, in the southern province of al-Dhale.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition didn’t immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.[mr/reuters]

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