Dec 16, 2018 11:59 UTC
  • Saudi-backed troops and mercenaries gather near the outskirts of the western port city of Hudadah, Yemen
    Saudi-backed troops and mercenaries gather near the outskirts of the western port city of Hudadah, Yemen

Saudi airstrikes and fierce clashes have shaken the outskirts of Yemen's Hudaydah despite a UN-brokered ceasefire that Yemenis already feared could collapse at any moment.

Residents were hoping that the ceasefire reached in Sweden Thursday would provide them a respite after months of clashes which have seen a push by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to seize Hudaydah thwarted. 

But heavy clashes broke out on the outskirts of Hudaydah overnight after fresh attempts by Saudi and UAE troops and their mercenaries to advance into the city amid aerial bombings. 

A military source loyal to Yemen's former Saudi-backed regime told AFP that least 29 fighters, including 22 members of the Ansarullah movement, had been killed on Saturday night. He also said that seven Ansarullah fighters had been taken captive during an attack by pro-Saudi militants in Hudaydah Province's Durayhimi district.

A Hudaydah resident said the fresh fighting was "fierce" and that the sounds of fighter jets, operated by Saudi Arabia and its allies, could be heard throughout the night until Sunday morning.

Yemen's army spokesman Brigadier Yahya Sare'e said on Saturday that dozens of Saudi air raids had targeted residential neighborhoods across the impoverished country and dropped cluster bombs on citizens' farms in Hudaydah.
In a statement carried by Yemen's official Saba news agency, Sare'e said Saudi mercenaries, supported by heavy shelling of artillery and rockets, had tried to infiltrate into Durayhimi from several directions.

"They tried to sneak into the positions of our forces but the army and Popular Committees responded, killing and wounding a number of them," he added.

The clashes came after Yemen’s Anarullah movement and the former Saudi-allied regime agreed Thursday to cease fighting and withdraw their forces from Hudaydah following week-long peace talks in Sweden.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the ceasefire agreement would see "a mutual redeployment of forces from the port and the city," with the UN playing "a leading role" there to facilitate humanitarian access.

The truce was the first significant breakthrough in Yemen's peace process, which is aimed at ending the Saudi war that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and pushed the country to the brink of famine.