0713 GMT February 25, 2020
Saudi warplanes carried out more than 10 airstrikes on Hodeida late on Monday, residents were cited as saying by Reuters.
Battles could be heard in the “July 7” district, four kilometers (2.5 miles) away from the port, residents said.
They said that intense fighting had broken out between forces loyal to former Saudi-backed president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, and the Houthi Ansarullah movement forces.
“The fighting is escalating and we can clearly hear machine guns and mortar fire. This is one of the worst nights we have experienced,” said Hodeida resident Mustafa Abdo.
The coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had last week “ordered” a halt in its offensive against the Red Sea port city, now a focus of the war, amid pressure from the West to end a conflict that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
Since 2015, Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a bombing campaign against the country to restore the former president and undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement.
The Monday attacks followed a draft UN Security Council resolution that urges an immediate truce in Hodeida. The UK-drafted resolution sets a two-week deadline for removing all barriers to humanitarian aid.
Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement backed the UN’s peace bid early on Monday and announced it was halting its counterstrikes as a goodwill measure to speed up the process.
The movement also said it was ready for a broader cease-fire if the coalition “wants peace."
The UN welcomed the decision and called on all warring sides to show restraint to pave the way for talks.
Later Yemen’s former information minister, Moammar al-Eryani, claimed the Houthis had “fired a missile toward Saudi lands”, adding on his Twitter account the missile failed to reach its target and fell inside Yemen. Houthi authorities could not immediately be reached for comment on the report, Reuters reported.
It was not immediately clear whether the renewed fighting in Hodeida would derail efforts by UN special envoy Martin Griffiths to salvage peace talks that collapsed in September.
The Houthis last July unilaterally halted attacks in the Red Sea to support peace efforts, after Saudi Arabia suspended temporarily oil exports through a strategic Red Sea channel following attacks on crude tankers.
Key Western allies including the United States have been urgently calling for a cease-fire ahead of the renewed UN efforts.
Western countries have provided arms and intelligence to the Arab states in the alliance, but have shown increasing reservations about the conflict since the murder of US-based Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul early last month.
While other EU countries keep shipping, Berlin clarifies even weapons sales already approved are prohibited until the facts of the regime critic’s death are known, global.handelsblatt.com reported.
The German government affirmed for the first time that there are currently no arms exports to Saudi Arabia allowed, including for weapons that have already been granted an export license. Berlin announced its decision Monday in the wake of the international outcry over the murder of the journalist.