10 pro-govt troops killed in Hodeida since Yemen truce: coalition source

Dubai (AFP) –


Ten pro-government troops have been killed and 143 wounded in Hodeida province since a truce took effect last week, an official for the Saudi-led coalition backing the loyalists said Tuesday.

It was the first time the coalition has said pro-government forces have been killed since the fragile ceasefire entered into force on December 18.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also accused the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels of violating the truce 183 times in and around the flashpoint city of Hodeida.

"The fact of the matter is, unfortunately, that the Huthis are clearly looking to provoke a response from the coalition and no one is holding them accountable," he told AFP.

He said the coalition was not "retaliating" and has not "conducted any air strikes or fired any artillery since the ceasefire began".

The ceasefire, the result of intense diplomatic efforts led by the UN, has remained shaky with the two sides accusing each other of violations.

Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert is heading a joint committee including members of the government and the Huthis to monitor the truce.

Cammaert arrived in Hodeida on Sunday from the rebel-held capital Sanaa, after meeting with government officials in Aden.

The coalition official said on Tuesday that the Saudi-led alliance was pleased Cammaert was "finally on the ground in Hodeida".

"We look forward to support Cammaert in his efforts... we genuinely hope he succeeds, but if not, we reserve the right to recommence an offensive to liberate the city," he added.

Yemen's warring sides agreed on the ceasefire to halt a devastating offensive by government forces and the allied Saudi-led coalition against rebel-held Hodeida at peace talks in Sweden this month.

According to the UN, Cammaert will chair a meeting of the joint committee on Wednesday.

The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution authorising the deployment of observers to Hodeida to monitor the truce.

The UN monitoring team aims to secure the functioning of lifeline port of Hodeida and supervise the withdrawal of fighters from the city.

The text approved by the Security Council "insists on the full respect by all parties of the ceasefire agreed" for Hodeida.

It authorises the United Nations to "establish and deploy, for an initial period of 30 days from the adoption of this resolution, an advance team to begin monitoring" the ceasefire, under Cammaert's leadership.

Around 10,000 people have been killed since the coalition intervened in 2015, according to the World Health Organization, although rights groups say the death toll could be five times higher.

The conflict has unleashed a major humanitarian crisis and pushed 14 million Yemenis to the brink of famine.