First clashes hit Hodeida since Yemen ceasefire, with 'overnight air raids'
Sporadic clashes broke out on the outskirts of Yemen's Hodeida on Friday, the first violence to hit the lifeline port city since a UN-brokered ceasefire came into effect, residents said.
Artillery fire could be heard in the south of the city, one resident told AFP, while another living on the edge of eastern Hodeida said they heard an exchange of fire every 15 minutes.
The clashes come just hours after a UN-backed ceasefire came into effect at midnight, 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 coalition, and the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels who hold Hodeida, was due to be followed by the withdrawal within days of fighters on both sides.
The Houthis on Friday accused pro-government forces of shelling rebel-controlled areas in Hodeida province.
In comments carried by the Houthi-run al-Masirah TV, the rebels also accused the coalition of launching air raids during the evening on numerous parts of the province.
Saudi Arabia had earlier on Friday backed the accord and called on the Houthis to "embark on this path" towards a political solution.
The accord foresees Hodeida being administered by "local security forces" - a term the rival parties disagree on - supported by the United Nations
UN envoy Martin Griffiths on Friday told the UN Security Council that a robust monitoring regime was urgently needed in the Red Sea city to oversee compliance with the truce. The deployment of a monitoring mission would require a Security Council resolution, according to diplomats.
Griffiths said retired Dutch Major General Patrick Cammaert had agreed to lead monitoring and could begin the mission within days.
The Houthis and the Saudi-backed government signed a mass prisoner exchange deal earlier this week at peace talks in Sweden which ended on Thursday with the Hodeida ceasefire agreement.
The warring parties are due to hold another round of talks in January to discuss a framework for political negotiations.