Yemen’s Houthi movement on Saturday started withdrawing forces from Saleef port in Hodeidah under a UN-sponsored deal that had been stalled for months, a witness said, reviving hopes for peace efforts to end the four-year war.
The move, which is yet to be verified by the UN and accepted by the Saudi-led coalition, is the first major step in implementing the pact reached last year by the Saudi-backed government and the Iran-aligned Houthis for a truce and troop withdrawal in Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.
UN teams were overseeing the Houthi redeployment in Saleef, used for grain, as other teams headed to the second port of Ras Isa, used for oil, to start implementing the Houthi withdrawal from there, according to the witness.
A dozen trucks carrying Houthi fighters, armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns, departed from Saleef. Two ships were docked at the port and operations were running normally, said the witness who was at the facility.
The UN’s Redeployment Coordination Committee has said that the Houthis would make an “initial unilateral redeployment” between May 11 and May 14 from Saleef, Ras Isa and Yemen’s main port of Hodeidah.