Pro-Iran Houthis begin partial withdrawal in Hodeidah
SANAA - Yemen's Pro-Iran Houthi rebels say they have begun long-delayed initial steps to withdraw their forces from the key port city of Hodeidah following a UN-brokered cease-fire.
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the head of the rebels' Supreme Revolutionary Committee, says the pullout from Hodeidah, as well as Salif and Ras-Issa ports started on Saturday at 10 a.m. (0700 GMT).
The head of the UN operation monitoring the cease-fire, Lieutenant General Michael Lollesgaard, said Friday that the Houthi's withdrawal from the three ports marked the first practical step toward realising the ceasefire agreed on in December in Sweden.
The United Nations announced late Friday that the rebels will begin a long-delayed withdrawal from Hodeidah and two other Red Sea ports on Saturday, the first step on the ground since the ceasefire deal was struck in Sweden.
The withdrawal of rebel forces will be completed by Tuesday, the head of the UN redeployment committee, General Michael Lollesgaard, said in a statement.
A UN observer mission led by Lollesgaard will monitor the withdrawal.
The information minister of the internationally recognised government, Moammer al-Eryani, welcomed the UN announcement but warned the rebels might be trying to "mislead" the international community.
"We welcome any measures towards the implementation of the Sweden agreement on redeployment in ports in Hodeida province and warn of attempts by the militia to mislead the international community and the (UN) Security Council before the next meeting," Eryani tweeted.
He said any unilateral redeployment by the rebels without control and joint verification "cannot be accepted."
(Arab Weekly staff and news agencies)