Attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) on a Yemeni government team operating as part of the UN-overseen Redeployment Co-ordination Committee in al-Hodeidah threaten efforts to peacefully resolve the conflict, officials said.
The Houthis' latest violation of the ceasefire agreement triggered an escalation that threatens a fragile truce in the Red Sea port city that was reached after UN-brokered peace talks in Sweden late last year.
On Sunday morning (November 24th), the Houthis attacked the government team's headquarters in the port city with a barrage of missiles and drones, said Maj. Gen. Mohammed Aidah, head of the government team.
Arab coalition forces were able to intercept and destroy three ballistic missiles and five drones used by the militia, he said.
The Yemeni government condemned the attack in a statement carried by local media, saying it showed total disregard for the UN efforts to implement the Stockholm agreement.
Yemen’s Foreign Ministry said the attacks came just one day after UN envoy Martin Griffiths briefed the Security Council about the situation, and pointed to "positive indications" in the implementation of al-Hodeidah agreement.
The ministry said it held the Houthis fully responsible for the violations, which threaten to undermine the al-Hodeidah agreement.
It called on the UN and the international community to condemn the escalation and hold the Houthis to account for the potential consequences of their actions.
Fierce battles in al-Hodeidah
Arab coalition airstrikes on Monday killed eight Houthis near al-Hodeidah port, triggering fierce battles, AFP reported.
Several more were wounded in Monday raids that targeted the Houthis' military positions north of al-Hodeidah, two local officials said.
Clashes erupted several hours later between Yemeni forces and the Houthis in al-Hodeidah's eastern and southern outskirts.
"The Houthis' (Sunday) attack came after they failed to make any progress in battles on the west coast, where they sustained heavy losses," said National Resistance Forces spokesman Col. Sadiq Duwaid.
Political researcher Wadih Atta told Al-Mashareq that the Houthis sought to escalate the conflict after Griffiths reported there had been a significant drop in fighting.
The Houthis' escalation is part of their efforts to consolidate their control in areas of international concern, "especially al-Hodeidah", he said.
Atta said the Houthis' attack shows the militia wants "to attract the attention of peace sponsors in Yemen to their ability as a controlling party to complicate matters militarily, and thus tip scales in their favour in any upcoming talks".