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Yemen’s warring forces blame each other of breaching ceasefire

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Spokesperson of the Houthi rebels Yahya Sarie speaks during a press conference in Sanaa, Yemen, on Dec. 31, 2018. Xinhua

SANAA (Xinhua) – Yemen’s rival forces have traded accusations of breaching a UN-brokered ceasefire in flashpoint Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

The Saudi-led coalition, which backs the Yemeni exiled government, recorded 14 breaches of the cease-fire by the Iranian-allied Houthi rebels over the past 24 hours, said a report by the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV.

Meanwhile, the Riyadh-based Yemeni government renewed call for their foe Houthi rebels to withdraw from Hodeidah ports as per the cease-fire deal reached in Stockholm earlier this month.

“The Stockholm agreement on Hodeidah requires the withdrawal of the Houthi militias from the ports and the city of Hodeidah,” the government-run Saba news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Hadhrami as saying.

Mr Hadhrami dismissed the rebels’ claims that they had withdrawn from the ports, accusing the rebels of seeking to circumvent the truce agreement.

However, spokesperson of the Houthi rebels Yahya Sarie accused the Saudi-led coalition of committing “801 violations since the declaration of cease-fire agreement in Hodeidah province.”

In a press conference in Sanaa, Mr Sarie claimed that his group had withdrawn from the ports, and he renewed his group’s call to the other side (government forces) to withdraw from the eastern part of Hodeidah city as per “the deal.”

On Saturday, the Houthi group said it began to withdraw from Hodeidah ports as per what they said “to implement the first phase of redeployment from Hodeidah port.”

In response, the UN released a statement saying that “any redeployment (from Hodeidah ports) would only be credible if all parties and the United Nations are able to observe and verify that it is in line with the Stockholm agreement.”

It said Patrick Cammaert, the UN appointed chairman of the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) which includes representatives from both Yemeni rival forces, would “convene on Jan. 1, 2019, the next meeting of the RCC” to discuss the redeployment plans and mechanism that will be required to monitor the ceasefire and ensure that “credible redeployment is achieved.”

Mr Cammaert arrived in Hodeidah last week to oversee the implementation of the ceasefire and the confidence-rebuilding measures between the Yemeni parties.

According to the truce deal, the withdrawal from the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa, and critical parts of the city associated with the humanitarian facilities should be completed within two weeks after the ceasefire enters into force, while the full withdrawal should be completed within a maximum period of 21 days.

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