SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen’s Shiite rebels on Saturday handed over control of the main port in the Red Sea city of Hodeida to the country’s navy and coast guard under U.N. supervision, security officials said, in a significant step in the implementation of a deal reached during peace talks in Sweden earlier this month.
The handover is the first in a series of confidence-building measures agreed to in Sweden that could pave the way for a political settlement of Yemen’s 4-year-old war pitting the Iran-aligned rebels known as Houthis against the internationally recognized government backed since 2015 by a Saudi-led coalition.
The rebels control most of northern Yemen, including the capital Sanaa, while their war foes control much of the south, including the Arabian Sea port city of Aden, where the exiled government is located.
The two sides have observed a cease-fire in Hodeida for more than a week, ending months of fierce fighting between the two sides for control of Hodeida. A U.N. team led by a Dutch officer arrived last week in the city to monitor the cease-fire. The U.N. team is led by retired Dutch Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert.