Yemen Houthis, government set up joint positions in key port city

Yemen's government and the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) have set up joint observation posts as part of de-escalation moves in the flashpoint city of al-Hodeidah, a move the UN welcomed on Wednesday (October 23rd).

The world body's envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths wrote on Twitter that the establishment of the four positions along frontlines in the key port city, and the deployment of liaison officers, were positive moves, AFP reported.

"This step forward will enhance de-escalation in flashpoint areas and save lives," he wrote on Twitter.

The Saudi-backed government and the Houhis have been embroiled in a devastating conflict since 2014.

Last year, loyalists backed by a Saudi-led military coalition launched an offensive to retake the Red Sea port city, which serves as a crucial entry point for imports and humanitarian aid.

UN-brokered December talks between the warring parties in Sweden yielded a series of breakthroughs including a ceasefire in al-Hodeidah, where combat largely ceased.

In May 2019, the UN announced that the Houthis had withdrawn from al-Hodeidah and two other nearby ports, the first practical step on the ground since the truce deal.

UN observation mission chief Abhijit Guha also welcomed the establishment of joint observation posts, "designed to facilitate direct inter-party de-escalation in flashpoint areas seen as susceptible to conflict", according to a UN statement.

A government official, who requested anonymity, told AFP the observation points had been working "smoothly".

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