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  1. ITV Report

Yemen civil war could be a step closer to an end after Houthi rebels 'begin withdrawal from key city'

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent David Wood

Yemen's civil war could be a step closer to ending after Houthi rebels said they have started their long-delayed withdrawal for the city of Hodeida.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the head of the rebels' Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said the pullout from Hodeida, as well as the two smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa, began in the morning.

The war in the country, which has raged on since September 2014, has led to one of the world's worst humanitarian crisis, and now the withdrawal could see aid enter into the country.

Hodeida is the main entry point for 70 per cent of imports and aid to Yemen, where the war has killed an estimated 60,000 people and pushed much of the country to the brink of famine.

The civil war in Yemen has been ongoing for five years. Credit: NC

Nearly two thirds of Yemenis are in need of aid and three million people have been displaced.

Thousands more have died from malnutrition, preventable diseases and epidemics.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt welcomed the news of the Houthi pullout.

Writing on his Twitter account, Hunt tweeted: "We appear to be approaching implementation of the mutual redeployment of forces - a key step to ending this brutal war."

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A Saudi-led coalition intervened to back the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi back in September 2014.

The cease-fire in Hodeida, which ended month of fighting, called for the mutual withdrawal of both government and rebel forces from the city and two other key locations.

The head of the United Nations operation monitoring the cease-fire, Lt. Gen. Michael Lollesgaard, who has helped broker the ceasefire, said a full implementation of the plan remains necessary so that life-saving aid can find its way into Yemen.

The U.N.-brokered deal was vague on who would control Hodeida's strategic ports after the sides withdraw, saying a "local force" would take over without specifying further.