Houthi fighters advanced to key positions in the strategic port city following the withdrawal of pro-government forces.
A United Nations monitoring mission urged warring parties in Yemen to hold new talks on Hodeidah as the Saudi-led coalition attacked areas south of the port city, where Houthi fighters advanced in the wake of the coalition’s withdrawal.
The call came on Monday, a day after the air strikes began. They were the first since late 2018 when the Saudi-backed government and the Houthis agreed on a UN-sponsored pact for a truce in Hodeidah and a redeployment of troops on both sides that never materialized.
Spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, General Turki al-Malki, in the first clarification on the abrupt withdrawal from Hodeidah, said the redeployment was ordered to support other fronts and in line with the coalition’s “future plans”.
The UN mission overseeing the Hodeidah Agreement, UNMHA and the Yemeni government team involved in it had said they had no warning, while some Yemeni coalition units criticized the withdrawal, including coastal fighters. of the Red Sea.
UNMHA said on Monday that the departure of joint Yemeni forces from the city of Hodeidah, al-Durayhimi, Bayt al Faqih and parts of al-Tahita and the subsequent takeover of the Houthis was “a big change” on the front line that justified discussions between the parties.
The coalition previously claimed to have carried out 11 air strikes “outside the areas covered by the Stockholm Pact”.
Houthi fighters on Monday clashed with Yemeni coalition forces in Hays district, south of Hodeidah city, two military sources told Reuters news agency after Sunday’s fighting in Al Faza.
Thousands of displaced people
The UN said the displacement of the front led to the displacement of thousands of people.
“About 700 families (about 4,900 people) were displaced” in Khokha, more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Hodeidah, “while another 184 families (about 1,300 people) were displaced further south” in the coastal city of Mokha, on the Red Sea, said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) citing Yemeni government sources.
“No movement has been reported within areas that were under de facto control,” he said in a statement Sunday, referring to the Houthis.
Citing humanitarian partners on the ground, he said a site of 300 tents for displaced people had been set up in Khokha district, while authorities were reportedly looking for another site to cope with the influx.
But the UN also said that the advance of the Houthis could result in a “better movement of civilians” between the provinces of Hodeidah and Sanaa and along the roads connecting the city of Hodeidah with other districts.
It is unclear whether the Hodeidah withdrawal was related to what the coalition described as a redeployment in the south, where sources said the Saudi army had left a main base in Aden, the provisional seat of the government.
Yemen has been mired in violence since the Houthis removed the internationally recognized government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014. The Saudi-led coalition intervened in the conflict in March 2015, aiming to restore government. .
Efforts by the United Nations and the United States to engineer a nationwide ceasefire have stalled as the Houthis insist the coalition first lift a blockade in their areas, while Riyadh wants a simultaneous deal.