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  • Anti-Houthi forces move out from Hodeidah

Anti-Houthi forces move out from Hodeidah

A Yemeni pro-government fighter is pictured during fighting with Huthi rebels on the south frontline of Marib, the last remaining government stronghold in northern Yemen, on November 10, 2021. (AFP)
A Yemeni pro-government fighter is pictured during fighting with Huthi rebels on the south frontline of Marib, the last remaining government stronghold in northern Yemen, on November 10, 2021. (AFP)
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14 Nov 2021 12:11:08 GMT9
14 Nov 2021 12:11:08 GMT9
  • Local military officers told Arab News by telephone on Saturday that they received orders from commanders on Wednesday to pull out of Hodeidah within 24 hours

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s Joint Forces on the country’s western coast announced on Friday a withdrawal from several liberated districts in the province of Hodeidah, including areas in Hodeidah city.

The Joint Forces, an umbrella term for three major military units in the country’s western coast, said that it had withdrawn forces from areas in Hodeidah that are included in a truce under the UN-brokered Stockholm agreement and would redeploy the withdrawn forces to other areas.

“Our religious and patriotic duty prompts us into defending more important fronts where we can exploit insufficient defenses,” the forces said in a statement, claiming that the Stockholm agreement constrained the forces and prevented them from taking control of the city of Hodeidah.

“The Joint Forces considered it a mistake to remain surrounded in defensive fortifications barred from fighting by an international decision, while the various fronts require support in all forms, including opening new fronts to reverse Houthi gains.”

Local military officers told Arab News by telephone on Saturday that they received orders from commanders on Wednesday to pull out of Hodeidah within 24 hours.

Long convoys of military vehicles carrying fighters and military equipment were seen leaving the districts Al-Houk, Hays, Attuhayta, Bait Al-Fakih, the Kilo16 sector and Sanaa Street in Hodeidah city.

The forces built sand barricades and deployed forces along a small coastal area called Al-Hayma, 80 kilometers south of Hodeidah, the officers said.

The Joint Forces are formed of three major military units — the Giants Brigades, National Resistance and Tehama Resistance — that were merged under the supervision of the Arab coalition in July 2019.

The forces managed to repel Houthi advances in Hodeidah province and largely committed to the agreement despite having the power to liberate the remaining Houthi-held areas in Hodeidah.

Shortly after the departure of the Joint Forces, the Houthis stormed cities and villages in Hodeidah as their leaders in Sanaa announced the seizure of province.

Under the Stockholm agreement in late 2018, the Yemeni government, whose forces reached the outskirts of Hodeidah city after a successful military offensive, agreed to stop attacking Hodeidah in exchange for the Houthi handover of the city’s seaport to neutral Yemeni forces that were not involved in the war under the aegis of the UN.

At the same time, the government the Executive Unit for IDP Camps said that at least 1874 people have been forced into fleeing their homes in Hays, Attuhayta and Bait Al-Fakih into safer places outside Hodeidah since Thursday when the Joint Forces began moving troops out of the province.

“The number is expected to increase. This huge number of displaced people are in urgent need of intervention by humanitarian partners,” the government body said in a statement.

The Yemeni government said in a statement carried by the official news agency that it was not alerted ahead of time about the withdrawal of forces from Hodeidah.

The UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement also said that it was not informed in advance about the withdrawal.

“We are liaising with the parties to establish the facts on the ground and call on them to ensure the safety and security of civilians in and around those areas where shifts in front lines have taken place,” the UN mission said on Twitter.

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