According to information provided by a local source to MintPress News, Saudi ceasefire violations included 100 missile attacks and 300 cases of artillery fire and shelling over the weekend, as well as attempts to breach Hodeida from two sides.
HODEIDA, YEMEN — Dutch Major General Patrick Cammaert chaired a joint UN committee in Hodeida, Yemen on Wednesday to monitor the truce between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis that was put into place on December 18.
A UN monitoring team, led by Cammaert, arrived in the port city on Monday after traveling from the Saudi-controlled city of Aden, and earlier from Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, where they met with Houthi officials on Sunday. The team arrived in Yemen on Saturday to oversee the fragile truce reached during recent UN-brokered peace talks in Sweden.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia increased its attacks — in breach of the UN-brokered truce – in the port city of Hodeida, leaving a father and his child dead after Saudi-led coalition fighters launched a guided missile at Bani Ghazi village in western Heis city on Wednesday.
According to information provided by a local source to MintPress News, Saudi ceasefire violations included 100 missile attacks and 300 cases of artillery fire and shelling over the weekend, as well as attempts to breach Hodeida from two sides. Saudi warplanes have also continued to carry out missions over Hodeida.
On Wednesday alone, Yemen’s resistance recorded at least 69 violations of the Hodeida truce by the coalition. An official for the coalition, in turn, accused Houthi fighters of 150 violations of the truce.
The team, which ate their first meal at a local restaurant under the buzz of coalition warplanes, will observe the Red Sea city’s fragile ceasefire. A peaceful and functioning Hodeida is vital for the millions at risk of starvation following months of battles between Yemen’s Houthi resistance and the Saudi-led coalition, as the city houses the Hodeida port, a conduit for most of the food and aid in Yemen.
Gen. Cammaert’s first task in Hodeida will be to assess the military and security situation on the ground and estimate the number of monitors that will be required in the near future.
The ceasefire and limited withdrawal from the vital Red Sea port city is the centerpiece of a peace initiative that is seen as the best chance yet of ending four years of devastating conflict, if international pressure on the Saudi alliance continues.
The truce was reached recently in Sweden during peace talks between delegations from the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis. The two sides agreed to the withdrawal of their forces and the deployment of UN monitors to the port but, as detailed above, the Saudis have violated the ceasefire hundreds of times since December 17, when the truce took effect.
On Friday, three days after the truce went into effect, the UN Security Council unanimously voted for a U.K.-drafted resolution to authorize the deployment of UN monitors to observe the implementation of the ceasefire for an initial 30 day period.
The move comes amid deep-rooted divisions that persist between the two sides around the implementation of the Hodeida truce. Most at issue is who should run the city. The Houthis say they retain administrative charge of the city, but Saudi-backed forces argue administrative control of the city is a matter of “sovereignty” and that they should be handed all administrative and security control.
Battles across Yemen rage on
Elsewhere in Yemen, a military source told MintPress News that a Kuwaiti military commander working for Saudi intelligence — Salah al-Hajri, nicknamed “Abu Shafi”– was killed in the al-Jawf province on Thursday when Houthi fighters drew a contingent of coalition leaders into a minefield in the Sabrain district in the Directorate of Khab and Shaff. A number of coalition leaders were killed, including the chief of staff of the axis of al-Jawf, Brigadier Mujahid al-Ghulisi.
On Wednesday, the Yemeni Army, allied with the Houthis, reportedly carried out an aerial attack against a group of Saudi mercenaries in the country’s northern province of al-Jawf. “Yemeni soldiers and their allies attacked Saudi mercenaries in the Suwaiqa base, which lies in the al-Yatma area of the province,” Brigadier General Yahya Saree, spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces, confirmed.
Meanwhile, fierce battles are still ongoing in Nihm, east of the capital city of Sana’a, and the noise of warplanes, artillery and gunfire still echoes through the district. The coalition has sent more troops to the city’s frontline, complete with tanks and other military vehicles, but has made no progress on the ground.
In retaliation for the attack on Nihm, Houthi fighters, supported by local resistance, launched a military operation in the eastern Yemen province of Marib, capturing 90 percent of the Sarawah district and strategic areas in the oil-rich region, as well as a 34-square-kilometer area of mountainous terrain and other sites controlled by the Saudi-led coalition since 2016.
Yemen’s Air Defense Forces also targeted and intercepted an unmanned aerial vehicle — a Chinese-made CH-4 combat drone, belonging to the Saudi-led military coalition — in Saada province in northwestern Yemen on Sunday, as it was flying on a military mission.
The propeller-driven drone, which was hit by a surface-to-air missile, landed in the al-Dalh district in northern Saada, 20 km away from the city center, near a gas station. Yemen’s Joint Operations Command published photos and footage showing the wreckage of the downed drone.
In a similar incident on August 30, Yemen’s army shot down a CH-4B armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) belonging to the Royal Saudi Air Force, near Tuwal border-crossing in Jizan. Later, the military published footage of the wreckage.
The CH-4B is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, unmanned aerial vehicle developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). According to GlobalSecurity.org, the CH-4 closely resembles the U.S.-made General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper drone.
The downing of the Saudi-led coalition drones come a day after Yemen’s Air Force launched a domestically developed Zelzal-1 (Earthquake-1) ballistic missile at a Saudi-backed mercenary position east of the al-Khobe district of Jizan, Saudi Arabia, 600 miles south of the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
Top Photo | Dutch officer Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert, center, who heads a United Nations advance team tasked with monitoring a cease-fire that went into force in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, is greeted on arrival to Sanaa airport, Yemen, Dec. 22, 2018.Hani Mohammed | AP
Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.