A member of the Yemeni pro-government forces walks through destruction in an industrial district in the eastern outskirts of the port city of Hodeida on Nov. 18, 2018, during the ongoing battle for control of the city from the Huthi rebels.
A member of the Yemeni pro-government forces walks through destruction in an industrial district in the eastern outskirts of the port city of Hodeida on Nov. 18, 2018, during the ongoing battle for control of the city from the Huthi rebels.

U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths visits war-torn Yemen Wednesday to prepare for peace talks after fresh fighting erupted in the key port of Hodeida.

Griffiths is scheduled to meet with Iran-aligned Houthi officials in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a in an attempt to persuade them and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government to begin negotiations in Sweden by year's end.

Both sides recently expressed support for Griffiths' efforts, but the eruption of violence after a lull raised the possibility talks could be derailed.

Yemeni military officials accused the Houthis on Monday of firing in the eastern part of Hodeida. Pro-government forces responded and Saudi-led coalition jets launched airstrikes.

A Yemeni government official accused the Houthis of firing a rocket toward Saudi territory, saying it failed to reach its target and fell into Yemen.

In New York, U.N. Security Council member Britain circulated a draft resolution to the rest of the council, calling for a cease-fire in Yemen, a halt to attacks on civilian areas, and unhindered access to Hodeida.

The port is under rebel control and is a lifeline for food, fuel, and humanitarian aid to the suffering population.

The Saudis have accused Iran of sending arms to the rebels through the port, a charge it denies.

The Trump administration has joined its Western allies in demanding a cease-fire in Yemen. The United States has stopped providing refueling services to Saudi coalition aircraft that attack Yemen.

Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut, said a cease-fire will eventually take hold in Yemen, but that each side wants to fire the final shot before it takes effect.

"Usually, before a cease-fire goes into effect, we normally witness an escalation of hostilities," he said. "And it appears to me that since the fighting continues in Hodeida — and the claim that they fired a rocket or a missile into Saudi Arabia that did not reach its target — tells us that the Houthis are keen on telling everybody that the last shot was theirs before the cease-fire."

The Houthis seized Sana'a in 2014, forcing the government to flee to exile in Saudi Arabia.

The group has since relocated to the southern Yemeni city of Aden.

Saudi-led airstrikes aimed at driving out the Houthis have killed thousands of people and wiped out entire civilian neighborhoods, including hospitals.

The fighting has compounded the misery in Yemen, which is also dealing with mass starvation and a cholera outbreak.

The World Health Organization estimates nearly 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Yemen since the Saudis intervened in March 2015. Some human rights groups, however, believe the death toll may be five times higher.

Edward Yeranian in Cairo contributed.

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