Intense clashes erupt in Yemen's Hodeidah after arrival of UN monitoring team

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-24 02:15:05|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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ADEN, Yemen, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) -- Intense clashes erupted on Sunday between the Yemeni government forces and the Houthi rebels in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah despite the cease-fire backed by the United Nations, local sources said.

A military source based in the city told Xinhua on anonymity that the Houthis engaged in fierce armed clashes with the government forces in the western part of Hodeidah, coinciding with the arrival of the UN monitoring team.

He said that the Houthis attempted to make progress in government-controlled areas near the shopping center of CityMax in Hodeidah, sparking intense clashes in the area.

A local resident said that the two-warring sides started to exchange heavy artillery fire at 5:00 p.m. local time.

Another source of the pro-government Giants Brigades said that Houthis fired a number of shells on the residential neighborhood of Mandher in Hodeidah.

Meanwhile, the Houthi-affiliated Masirah television network reported that the Saudi-backed forces continued to set up new checkpoints and military sites.

The armed clashes occurred in the fifth day of the cease-fire that went into effect at midnight (2100 GMT) on Monday and coincided with the arrival of the UN team which will be in charge of monitoring a cease-fire in Hodeidah.

Patrick Cammaert, a retired Dutch general, who is heading the UN monitoring team, arrived in Sanaa earlier in the day and held a meeting with Houthi leaders there.

The cease-fire deal signed between the two warring rivals last week in Sweden demanded full withdrawal of all armed groups from Hodeidah and its strategic seaports.

According to the deal, the UN will manage the port and supervise the re-deployment of neutral forces there to prevent military escalation, while local forces will help maintain law and order in the city.

Local residents said tense calm was held in the neighborhoods of Hodeidah despite the heavy deployment of fighters of the two warring sides inside and around the city.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014 when the Houthi rebels overtook the capital Sanaa and toppled the government of President Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.

The war has killed more than 10,000 people and created a serious humanitarian crisis.