HODEIDAH (Yemen), A UN-led team tasked with monitoring a ceasefire met Wednesday in Yemen's flashpoint city of Hodeida, after sporadic clashes underscored the fragility of the truce which began last week.
The ceasefire in the rebel-held city, whose Red Sea port is vital for millions at risk of starvation, is part of a peace push seen as the best chance yet of ending four years of devastating conflict.
A pro-government official said that loyalist members of the committee overseeing the truce went to the Union Palace Hotel in the east of Hodeidah city to take part in the meeting.
Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert is heading the joint committee, which includes both government officials and Houthi rebels, and chaired its first face-to-face meeting.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric has described the meeting as one of the priorities of Cammaert's mission.
A truce in Hodeidah and its surroundings went into effect on Dec 18 but has remained shaky, with the two sides accusing each other of violations.
Government forces � backed by a Saudi-led coalition � and the Iran-aligned Houthis exchanged gunfire for a few hours on Wednesday morning. The sound of heavy artillery could be heard to the east of the city.
An official for the Saudi-led coalition said Tuesday that 10 pro-government troops had been killed since the ceasefire went into force, accusing the Houthis of 183 violations.
The rebels, in turn, said on the same day that they had recorded at least 31 violations in the past 24 hours by pro-government troops, according to the Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV.
The war between the Shiite Houthi rebels and troops loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi escalated in 2015, when he fled into Saudi exile and the Saudi-led military coalition intervened.
Since then, the war has killed some 10,000 people, according to the World Health Organization, although human rights groups say the real death toll could be five times as high.
The conflict has unleashed a major humanitarian crisis and pushed 14 million Yemenis to the brink of famine.
Cammaert arrived in Hodeidah on Sunday from the rebel-held capital Sanaa, after meeting with government officials in Aden.
Yemen's warring sides agreed at peace talks in Sweden this month on the ceasefire to halt a devastating offensive by government forces and the coalition against Hodeidah.
The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution authorising the deployment of observers to oversee the truce.
The UN monitoring team aims to secure the functioning of Hodeidah's port and supervise the withdrawal of fighters from the city.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK