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Coalition forces say they have withdrawn from around Yemen's Hodeidah port

November 12, 2021 at 11:18 pm

Hudaydah Port in Yemen [Giles Clarke/UN OCHA / Getty Images]

Yemeni forces under a Saudi-led coalition said on Friday they have withdrawn from around the main port of Hodeidah held by their foes, the Houthis, as the Red Sea city’s governor announced the reopening of a main road linking it to the capital, Sana’a, Reuters reported.

The Giants Brigade southern forces supported by the United Arab Emirates, posted on Twitter that they had redeployed from around Hodeidah city in western Yemen, the main entry point for commercial imports and aid flows.

A spokesman for other UAE-backed forces said in a separate Twitter post that the redeployment was due to lack of movement on a UN-sponsored pact agreed in late 2018 for a phased withdrawal from Hodeidah by both warring sides, which has not taken place.

“This is a withdrawal from areas stipulated under the Stockholm deal … to free the joint forces from limitations imposed by this deal,” spokesperson, Sameer Alyosofi, said.

There was no immediate comment from the Saudi-led coalition that intervened in March 2015 after the Iran-aligned Houthis ousted the internationally recognised government from Sana’a.

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It was not clear if this was part of a wider coalition redeployment cited earlier by coalition spokesman, General Turki al-Malki, who on Wednesday denied reports about a Saudi military withdrawal from south Yemen where security sources told Reuters the Saudi military had left a major base in Aden.

Hodeidah’s Houthi governor, Mohammed Ayash, tweeted “Welcome to Hodeidah via its main gate, Kilo 16,” referring to a main road that had been blocked by coalition forces since 2018.

Three sources told Reuters the joint forces also withdrew from Al-Durayhimi and Al-Tahita south of Hodeidah city.

The conflict, widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has been in military stalemate for years. The UAE largely ended its presence in Yemen in 2019 but continues to hold sway via southern forces it armed and trained.

As part of intensified efforts to end the war, Washington has pressed Riyadh to lift restrictions by coalition warships on Houthi-held ports, a condition from the group to start ceasefire talks.

The blockade is a main factor in Yemen’s humanitarian crisis that has left millions of people facing starvation.

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