The United Nations has said Yemen‘s Houthi armed group has handed over security of three Red Sea ports to the “coastguard” under a peace deal that it hopes will pave the way for wider talks to resolve the conflict.

“UN teams have been monitoring this redeployment which has been executed, partly as agreed by the Yemeni parties in the concept of phase one,” the head of a UN mission to monitor the deal said in a statement on Tuesday.

“There is still a lot of work to be done on the removal of the [military] manifestations, but cooperation has been very good,” said Lieutenant General Michael Lollesgaard, head of the UN’s Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC), after visiting the ports of Saleef, Ras Isa and Hodeidah.

The pullout came as Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said seven drones carried out attacks on oil installations inside Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, heightening tensions in the region.

The Houthi withdrawal, which began on Saturday, is part of a hard-won agreement struck in Sweden between the internationally recognized Yemeni government and the armed group in December.

The government backed by a Saudi-UAE coalition have been battling the Houthis since they toppled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi from power in 2014, embroiling Yemen in a devastating conflict.

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Aerial attacks and ground fighting have caused what the UN called “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”, with 3.3 million people displaced and 24.1 million in need of aid – more than two-thirds of the population.

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