The battle for Yemen's key port of Hodeida

On August 2 UN envoy Martin Griffiths announces talks between the warring sides in Geneva on September 6. They would be the first since fruitless negotiations held in Kuwait in 2016.

The battle for Yemen's key port of Hodeida
Sanaa: Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition launched operations in June to retake the rebel-held port city of Hodeida, through which the bulk of the destitute country's aid arrives. Here is an overview of the battle for Hodeida, where a fragile truce is now in place:
- Offensive launched -

Government forces launch their offensive on June 13 after receiving a green light from the Saudi-led coalition that provides them with essential air and ground support. The coalition, which includes the United Arab Emirates, carries out more than a dozen air strikes on Huthi positions on the outskirts of Hodeida.
Rebel chief Abdulmalik al-Huthi vows to resist, urging his fighters to "confront the forces of tyranny". The UN Security Council calls for the Hodeida port to be kept open for deliveries of vital food and humanitarian supplies.
- Rebel airport base seized -
On June 19, government forces enter the disused Hodeida airport, announcing a day later they control it completely. They withdraw several days later after intense rebel bombardment.
After a pause in the offensive, there is heavy bombing south of Hodeida which sources say on July 3 killed more than 50 people, including civilians, over two days. Witnesses in the city say the rebels have dug dozens of trenches and established defensive positions, blocking the roads with concrete and containers.
- Peace bid fails -
On August 2 UN envoy Martin Griffiths announces talks between the warring sides in Geneva on September 6. They would be the first since fruitless negotiations held in Kuwait in 2016. The same day there are air strikes on the city that kill 55 civilians and wound dozens of others.
By September 8 the peace effort is declared a failure with the rebels refusing to make the journey to Geneva without guarantees of their return to Sanaa. On September 18 the coalition formally announces its offensive has resumed.
- Appeal to spare civilians -
As fighting nears hospitals in the city, international aid groups on November 7 appeal for the warring parties to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure. The rebel chief, Huthi, meanwhile vows in a television address that his forces will never surrender.
- Street clashes -
On November 9 the rebels launch barrages of mortar fire to slow an advance by pro-government forces. But loyalist forces press deeper into the city on November 10, taking control of its main May 22 Hospital from which the rebels had forced out staff and set up sniper positions.
On November 11 the first street clashes break out in a residential neighbourhood to the east of Hodeida. Washington and London step up pressure on Riyadh to end the conflict.
- Lull -
On November 13 commanders from the pro-government forces say they have received the order to stop operations against the rebels.
Twelve days of bombardments and fighting have left nearly 600 dead, mainly combattants in both camps, according to loyalist military and hospital sources. On November 23, Griffiths says the rebels have agreed to negotiate a leading role for the UN in running the port.
- Fragile truce -
On December 6, talks between the Huthis and the coalition open in Rimbo, Sweden. On December 13 UN chief Antonio Guterres announces a series of breakthroughs in peace talks including a ceasefire for Hodeida. Fierce fighting sporadically rocks the city over the next few days, before the truce comes into effect on December 18.
On December 21, the UN Security Council unanimously votes to authorise the deployment of observers to oversee the fragile truce in Hodeida. The head of the UN team, Patrick Cammaert, arrives in Yemen the next day and holds talks in Aden and Sanaa before travelling to Hodeida.

The UN convenes a meeting with the warring parties on December 26 to monitor the truce, which remains shaky with the two sides accusing each other violations. On December 29 rebels begin withdrawing from Hodeida port, in the latest step to implementing the deal reached in Sweden.



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