Pro-gov't Yemeni forces defuse hundreds of Houthi-laid bombs in Hodeidah

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ADEN, Yemen, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Forces loyal to Yemen's government on Thursday continued their operations to defuse bombs laid by the Houthi rebels in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, a military official told Xinhua.

The engineering teams of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government managed to defuse hundreds of landmines and improvised devices laid by the Houthi fighters in Durayhmi district of Hodeidah, the local military official said on condition of anonymity.

"Many neighborhoods are still filled with different types of landmines and it needs a lot of time to be cleared by the explosives experts," he said.

The government-controlled areas were surrounded by fields of landmines, making it very difficult for displaced people to return to their homes following the withdrawal of the Houthi rebels, he explained.

The Houthi rebels are using roadside bombs and landmines to impede the progress of the government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition in Hodeidah.

The Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the Iranian-allied Houthi rebels agreed to a cessation of hostilities following a UN-brokered deal in Sweden in December 2018.

The cease-fire deal demanded full withdrawal of all armed groups from Hodeidah and its strategic sea ports.

According to the deal, the UN will manage the port and supervise the re-deployment of neutral forces there to prevent military escalation, while local forces will help with the maintenance of law and order in the city.

On Tuesday, a new UN team tasked with monitoring a cease-fire arrived in Hodeidah and held its first meeting under the leadership of the retired Danish general Michael Lollesgaard, head of the joint committee including both government officials and representatives from the Houthi rebel group.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014 when the Houthi rebels overtook the capital Sanaa and toppled the government of President Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.

The war has so far killed more than 10,000 people, thus creating a serious humanitarian crisis in the impoverished Arab country. Enditem

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