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Yemen cease-fire monitors meet for first time to outline withdrawal

A United Nations monitoring committee chosen to oversee the Yemen cease-fire in the critical port city of Hudaydah met for the first time Wednesday.

Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert, who is leading the U.N. group, arrived in the city Sunday in hopes of holding together the truce between Yemeni government-led forces and Houthi rebels, who have controlled the town for several years.

"The general will discuss the cease-fire and the two phases of the withdrawal from the ports of Hudaydah, Ras Issa and Al Saqef," a Yemeni official said.

An official from the Arab coalition supporting the Yemeni government said the Houthis will have to withdraw from all three ports by the end of Dec. 31 and from the city by Jan. 7.

Sporadic clashes between government supporters and rebels had broken out in the hours before the monitoring meeting, Al Jazeera reported.

Meanwhile, rebels have argued that they have documented at least 31 violations in the past 24 hours by pro-government troops, Houthi-run Al Masirah TV reported.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war since 2014 when the Houthi rebels captured the country's capital of Sana'a and toppled the government. Since then, a government-led coalition that includes Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been fighting the rebels since 2015.

Hudaydah and its Red Sea port is a critical juncture in Yemen, needed to get humanitarian supplies throughout the war-torn country. The cease-fire negotiated earlier this month is an attempt to get those supplies flowing again.

Both sides reached the cease-fire agreement during peace talks in Sweden for more than a week in hopes to ending the war that's killed thousands and put millions on the brink of starvation.

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