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Clashes in Yemen's Hodeida as ceasefire comes into force

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Clashes erupted Tuesday morning in Yemen just minutes after a ceasefire deal took effect in the country's flashpoint port city of Hodeida, AFP quoted a pro-government official as saying.


The official said that sporadic clashes in the east of the Red Sea city -- whose port serves as a crucial gateway for humanitarian aid -- are ongoing despite a truce deal that was to be implemented at midnight local time (2100 GMT).

 

The United Nations said on Monday that the deal was to be implemented at midnight, even though the agreement reached in Sweden was announced on Thursday between Yemen's Saudi-backed government and the Huthi rebels and included an "immediate ceasefire" in Hodeida and its surroundings.

 

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 statement.

 

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

 

A UN official, who requested anonymity, said that 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 Huthis violate and dishonour it," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

 

Residents in Hodeida and the surrounding areas have reported fierce fighting and air strikes in recent days, as clashes continued between Saudi-backed government forces and the Iran-aligned Huthis.

 

At least 29 fighters, including 22 Huthi rebels, were killed on Saturday night in Hodeida province, a pro-government military source said.

 

Two Hodeida residents reached by telephone said that they could hear intermittent clashes to the east and south of the city on Monday.

 

A pro-government military official said that there were sporadic clashes, adding that a fire erupted in one of the factories in the east of the city due to strikes on Sunday night.

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