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Yemen ceasefire 'broken in minutes' after clashes

Clashes erupted in Yemen just minutes after a ceasefire deal took effect in the country, a government official says.

The warring sides had agreed for a truce deal to be implemented in the country’s flashpoint city of Hodeida at midnight local time.

But one pro-government official told AFP news agency that clashes were ongoing in the east of the Red Sea city, which is used as a crucial gateway for humanitarian aid.

On Monday, the United Nations said the deal was agreed following talks in Sweden last Thursday between Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and the Houthi rebels, and included an “immediate ceasefire” in Hodeida and its surroundings.

Yemeni pro-government forces gather in the port city of Hodeida
Image: Yemeni pro-government forces gather in the port city of Hodeida

Some hoped it would be the beginning of the end of the civil war, which has lasted nearly four years.

The city has been controlled by Houthi rebels since 2014 and is a lifeline for food deliveries to Yemenis across the country, where the UN says millions face famine because of a blockade.

Smoke rises from behind a building during heavy fighting between the Yemeni government and Houthis in Hodeidah, Yemen. Pic: Arab24/Reuters
Image: Smoke rises from behind a building during heavy fighting between the Yemeni government and Houthis in Hodeidah, Yemen. Pic: Arab24/Reuters

A man loads a rocket propelled grenade into a rocket launcher during heavy fighting between the Yemeni government and Houthis in Hodeidah, Yemen. Pic: Arab24/Reuters
Image: A man loads a rocket propelled grenade into a rocket launcher during heavy fighting between the Yemeni government and Houthis in Hodeidah, Yemen. Pic: Arab24/Reuters

Shortly before the agreement was to take effect on Tuesday, Yemen’s internationally-recognised government called on its forces to “cease fire in Hodeida province and Hodeida city,” according to a copy statement received by AFP.

The Houthi rebels also said they would commit to the agreement.

A UN official, who requested anonymity, said the delay to the halt in hostilities was necessary for “operational reasons”.

An official in the Saudi-led coalition confirmed the timing, adding that details on implementing the truce deal “were not clear at the beginning”.

The coalition “has no intention of violating the agreement… unless the Houthis violate and dishonour it,” the official said.

Clashes are ongoing on the east of the Red Sea City
Image: Clashes are ongoing on the east of the Red Sea City

Fierce fighting and airstrikes have been reported by Hodeida residents and people in surrounding areas in recent days, as clashes continued between Saudi-backed government forces and the Iran-aligned Houthis.

At least 29 fighters, including 22 Houthi rebels, were killed on Saturday night in Hodeida province.

Two residents said they could hear intermittent clashes to the east and south of the city on Monday.

According to a pro-government official, a fire broke out in one of the factories in the east of the city due to strikes on Sunday night.

More from Yemen

Shots are fired from a vehicle during heavy fighting between the Yemeni government and Houthis in Hodeidah, Yemen. Pic: Arab 24/Reuters
Image: Shots are fired from a vehicle during heavy fighting between the Yemeni government and Houthis in Hodeidah, Yemen. Pic: Arab 24/Reuters

At least 10,000 people have already been killed in the war – though observers believe the number could be much higher – and Save the Children estimates 85,000 children under five may have starved to death.

Pressure to end the war has intensified amid dire humanitarian warnings and the Jamal Khashoggi murder, which has brought attention to the Saudi’s government actions.

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