.
.
.
.

Saudi strikes suspended in Yemen to allow aid

The Arab regional coalition announced the five-day truce to allow emergency supplies to flow into the impoverished nation

Published: Updated:

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed militiamen in Yemen suspended its air war Monday to allow desperately needed aid deliveries, but clashes persisted in several areas on the ground, witnesses said.

The Houthi militia, who control swathes of the country, including the capital Sanaa, said they had not been consulted about the unilateral coalition ceasefire that began at midnight (Sunday 2100 GMT).

The Houthis rejected the ceasefire on Monday, according to a message posted on Twitter Sunday.

The truce proposed by the “Saudi aggressor" is aimed at enabling pro-government fighters to regroup, rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi was quoted as saying on a Twitter account believed to be managed by his group.

The Arab regional coalition, which has waged four months of air strikes in support of exiled President Abedrabbu Mansour Hadi, announced the five-day truce to allow emergency supplies to flow into the impoverished nation.

It reserved the right to respond to “military activity or movement” but there were no reports of new air raids by dawn despite several new attacks by the rebels.

The Houthis bombarded areas overnight in the southern provinces of Taez, Lahj and Dhaleh, according to witnesses and military sources.

Rebel tanks fired on residential areas in Jebel Sabr in Taez, witnesses said, sparking clashes with loyalist troops that caused an unknown number of deaths on both sides, witnesses said.

In Marib to the east of the capital Sanaa, fighting broke out before dawn when rebels launched an offensive against loyalist positions, residents said.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon earlier made a plea for all sides to “agree to and maintain the humanitarian pause for the sake of all the Yemeni people.”

But Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the self-described “president of the High Committee of the Revolution,” a body formed by Houthi militants, said in comments published by the rebel-controlled Saba news agency Sunday that his group had not been consulted by the U.N. about the ceasefire.

The group could therefore not give a “negative or positive” answer about the truce, he said.

The United Nations says the conflict has killed more than 3,640 people, around half of them civilians, since late March.

Relief supplies, however, have recently begun to trickle into Aden after loyalist fighters secured the southern port city, which had been Hadi’s last refuge before he fled to Saudi Arabia in March.

Several ships have docked in Aden since Tuesday carrying thousands of tons of aid supplies sent by the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and Gulf nations but distributing the aid, particularly outside the city, presents a major challenge.