A Saudi Arabia-led coalition supporting Yemen’s government against Houthi rebels has declared a 48-hour ceasefire to begin on Saturday, according to local media.
“It has been decided to begin a 48-hour ceasefire from 12:00 noon in Yemen’s timing (09:00 GMT) on Saturday,” a coalition statement carried by Saudi Arabia’s official SPA news agency said, adding that the truce could be renewed if Houthi fighters and their allies abided by it and allowed aid into besieged cities.
The coalition announcement came after a request for a ceasefire by Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, himself based in Riyadh, to Saudi King Salman, the statement said.
“Coalition forces will abide by the ceasefire,” it said, but warned that should the rebels or troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh make any military moves in the area, the coalition would respond.
The naval and air “blockade” would also remain in place and surveillance jets would continue to fly over Yemen, it added.
The coalition has been supporting forces loyal to Hadi’s government since March 2015.
There was no immediate word from the rebels on whether they would abide by the truce.
The US chief diplomat had said after meeting with Houthi negotiators in Oman that they were ready to observe the ceasefire plan, but Hadi’s government said it was not aware of any new peace initiative.
Since Thursday, more than 50 people have been killed in clashes between the rebels and loyalists on the outskirts of the third biggest city Taez, medical and military sources said.
Six attempts to clinch a ceasefire in Yemen have foundered, including a three-day October truce that fell apart as soon as it went into force. It was designed to allow aid deliveries to millions of homeless and hungry Yemenis.
“There has been severe and heavy clashes on different fronts in Yemen recently, now with this ceasefire, there will be a decerase in the number of air strikes and heavy clashes but at the same time, inside the country, we are going to see the same heavy clashes going on despite the announcement of the ceasefire by the Saudi-led coalition,” Baaran Shiban, a London-based human rights worker, told Al Jazeera.
“Usually a ceasefire is supposed to be for humanitarian aids and to have access for us to areas suffered most by the clashes, but we are not sure whether this truce will hold,” Shiban said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry had earlier announced a ceasefire that was to have taken effect on Thursday, but there was intense fighting on Friday, eliminating hopes of warring parties abiding by that truce.
Kerry had said after meeting with Houthi negotiators in Oman that they were ready to observe the ceasefire plan, but Hadi’s government said it was not aware of any new peace initiative.
Since Thursday, more than 50 people have been killed in clashes between rebels and loyalists on the outskirts of the third biggest city, Taez, medical and military sources said.
The United Nations says more than 7,000 people have been killed and nearly 37,000 wounded in Yemen since the Saudi-led coalition began its bombing campaign last year.
Source: Al Jazeera News And Agencies