By Mohamed Fahd and Mohamed al-Samei
The Saudi-led coalition has temporarily halted a military offensive in Yemen’s coastal Al-Hudaydah province, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said Sunday.
Writing on Twitter, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the move aims to achieve an “unconditional withdrawal” of Houthi rebels from the province.
“We welcome efforts by UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, to achieve an unconditional Houthi withdrawal from Al-Hudaydah city and port,” he tweeted.
“We have paused our campaign to allow enough time for this option to be fully explored. We hope he will succeed,” he said.
Gargash said military operations in Al-Hudaydah have been halted on June 23 for a week, but without elaborating.
The UAE minister said the coalition offensive in Al-Hudaydah has succeeded so far in “liberating the airport and forcing the Houthis to make concessions”.
Earlier this week, the UN envoy unveiled a proposal made by the Shia Houthi group to place Al-Hudaydah seaport under UN supervision -- a proposal, he said, to which the Aden-based Yemeni government has also agreed.
On Thursday, Griffiths wrapped up a regional tour during which he met with Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in Aden and chief Houthi negotiator Mohamed Abdel Salam in Muscat.
On June 13, Yemeni government forces -- backed by the Saudi-led military coalition -- waged a wide-ranging operation to retake Al-Hudaydah and its strategic seaport from Houthi rebels.
Impoverished Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when the Houthis overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.
The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies -- who accuse the Shia Houthis of serving as Iranian proxies -- launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.