UN special envoy Martin Griffiths urged Yemen's warring parties to respect a ceasefire accord struck at peace talks in Sweden after deadly clashes in the port city of Hudaida.

A Houthi rebel mans a machine gun mounted on a patrol vehicle on a street where pro-Houthi protesters demonstrated against the Saudi-led coalition in Hudaida, Yemen December 10, 2018.
A Houthi rebel mans a machine gun mounted on a patrol vehicle on a street where pro-Houthi protesters demonstrated against the Saudi-led coalition in Hudaida, Yemen December 10, 2018. (Reuters Archive)

Air strikes and fierce clashes shook the outskirts of Yemen's rebel-held port city of Hudaida overnight, pro-government sources and residents said on Sunday despite a UN-brokered ceasefire.

At least 29 fighters, including 22 Houthi rebels, were killed on Saturday night in clashes and air strikes, a pro-government military source told AFP news agency.

He added that seven rebels were captured during an attack on Al Durayhimi district, which lies about 20 kilometers south of Hudaida city.

'Fierce' clashes 

A resident of the city reached by telephone said that the clashes were "fierce" and the sounds of jets could be heard throughout the night until about 5 am (0200 GMT) on Sunday.

The fighting comes days after a UN-backed ceasefire came into effect, part of a hard-won accord agreed in Sweden between Yemen's warring sides.

The truce between Yemeni government forces, backed by a Saudi-led military coalition, and the Houthi rebels was due to be followed by the withdrawal within days of fighters on both sides.

Government forces accused of targeting civilians

In comments published on Saturday on the rebel-run Saba news agency, the Houthis accused pro-government forces of shelling residential neighbourhoods in Hudaida city. 

Thursday's ceasefire accord has been seen as the most significant step towards ending the devastating conflict in Yemen, where more than 14 million people are on the brink of famine.

A prisoner swap involving some 15,000 detainees is planned and a "mutual understanding" has been struck to facilitate aid deliveries to Yemen's third city Taiz – under control of loyalists but besieged by rebels.

The two sides also agreed to meet again in late January for more talks to define the framework for negotiations on a comprehensive peace settlement.

The UN says the conflict has killed some 10,000 people and unleashed the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Human rights groups say the death toll could be five times as high.

Warring parties urged to to respect truce deal

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths on Sunday urged Yemen's warring parties to respect a ceasefire accord struck at peace talks in Sweden after deadly clashes in the port city of Hudaida.

"The special envoy expects the two parties to respect their obligations as per the text and spirit of the Stockholm Agreement and to engage in the immediate implementation of its provisions," Griffiths tweeted.

He said the UN was working with Yemen's Saudi-backed government and Iran-aligned Houthi rebels to ensure the accord on Hudaida reached in Sweden on Thursday were "implemented timely and properly".

Air strikes and fierce clashes shook the outskirts of Yemen's rebel-held Hudaida on Saturday night, pro-government sources and residents said, despite the UN-brokered ceasefire.

Source: AFP