Houthis Start Pull Out From Ports Following Peace Deal

Yemen's Houthis offer unilateral withdrawal from key ports in coming days - UN

The U.N. said Sunday it is monitoring the redeployment of rebel forces from three key ports in Yemen after the government dismissed the withdrawal as a "farce".

But the United Nations, which said it had teams monitoring the Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Issa ports, later reported that the pullout had gone "in accordance with established plans".

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the head of the rebels' Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said the pullout from Hodeida, as well as the two smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa, began in the morning.

United Nations monitors will verify the Houthi withdrawal on Tuesday.

"The UN has started monitoring this unilateral step", a source told reporters.

The UN Security Council is due to hear a briefing on Hodeida on Wednesday.

Waleed Al Qudaimi, deputy governor of Hodeidah province, told The National that the Houthis were trying to avoid criticism at a Security Council session on May 15 by repeating the ruse they had tried in late December.

Yemen's government had accused rebels Sunday of a "policy of deception" after they announced the withdrawal in a long-delayed move agreed under a ceasefire deal past year.

Lollesgaard said the full implementation of the Hodeida deal remains instrumental to ensuring life-saving humanitarian access inside Yemen.

A minister in the Yemeni government also dismissed the Houthi movement's pullout from the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah as a "show" meant to "disinform the global community".

But amid deep distrust among all parties in the war, a senior government official, Al-Hasan Taher, said the rebels were merely installing Houthi militia members in Coast Guard and police uniforms.

"It's an attempt to disinform the global community", said Al-Iryani.

He added that the Houthis must commit to fully following through on the redeployment. But they've yet to announce a withdrawal. It would also allow reopening humanitarian corridors.

Last month United Nations special envoy Martin Griffiths told Reuters the Saudi-backed government and the Houthi group had formally agreed a first phase of troop redeployments, while discussions were still underway for the second phase.

The UN said on Sunday that rebel forces had retreated from the port in the western city of Hodeidah.

The port of Hodeida is one of Yemen's most important lifelines.

Hodeidah became the focus of the war past year when the coalition twice tried to seize its port to cut off the main supply line of the Houthis, who they accuse of smuggling Iranian weapons, including missiles that have targeted Saudi cities. More than 10,000 people have been reported killed in Yemen over the last five months, bringing the war's death toll to over 70,000 since 2016, according to data collated by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

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