by Murad Abdu
ADEN, Yemen, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- Forces loyal to the Yemeni government exchanged sporadic mortar shell attacks with the Houthi rebels in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah on Saturday, local sources said.
In different areas of Hodeidah, the two-warring sides exchanged sporadic attacks using mortar shells after a two-day lull aimed at receiving humanitarian aid and paving the way for new peace negotiations in Sweden.
The Houthi fighters fired mortar shells that landed on a large factory belonging to local investors, causing a huge fire and explosions in the area, an army commander said.
He said on condition of anonymity that "factories and private companies located in government-controlled areas are frequently shelled by rockets and mortar shells from the Houthi side."
Houthis exploited the temporary pause of fighting in destroying remains of the infrastructure in Hodeidah, the commander added.
Meanwhile, the Houthi-affiliated Masirah television network said that forces loyal to the Saudi-backed Yemeni government targeted Haly district with artillery shelling.
It said that four family members died as a result of the artillery shelling launched by the government forces in the same district of Haly in Hodeidah.
Hodeidah-based residents told Xinhua that they had heard exchanges of fire between the Houthi rebels and the government soldiers during the two-day temporary pause of fighting in the city.
Also, the pro-Houthi security forces in Hodeidah launched a campaign and "arrested several citizens accusing them of being spies," according to the local residents.
A source of the pro-government Giants Brigades said that the military leaders are still considering a major offensive that will push troops deep inside Hodeidah's neighborhoods and the strategic seaport controlled by the Houthis.
"A new offensive will be launched because our forces are now positioned in advanced locations and still receiving sporadic Houthi attacks overnight," the source said anonymously.
On Friday, the UN envoy for Yemen said that he plans to visit Hodeidah next week to work toward a UN supervision over the Yemeni port that handles 80 percent of the humanitarian relief to the war-torn country.
"I plan to visit Hodeidah next week ... to revisit a UN supervisory role (for the port)," Martin Griffiths, the special envoy of the secretary-general for Yemen, told the Security Council.
Martin Griffiths said that he intends to convene peace talks between the warring factions "shortly" in Sweden in a bid to end the fourth-year long military conflict in the war-torn Arab country.
The military conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital of Sanaa by the Iranian-backed Houthis, which overthrew Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The Saudi-led coalition allied with the government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.
The coalition has been trying to retake the strategic city of Hodeidah from the Houthis, but halted an offensive three days ago amid international concern about a humanitarian catastrophe that an all-out operation could spark.
The de-escalation of fighting was described by Yemeni sources as "an unannounced cease-fire" hammered out by powerful Western countries in order to pave the way for new UN-sponsored peace talks.