UN-brokered Yemen ceasefire comes into effect

It was the sixth truce between the Houthi rebels and pro-government forces since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in March of last year.

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

The UN hopes the ceasefire might pave the way for a resumption of peace talks between the two sides. (File photo, December 2015)

A three-day ceasefire in war-torn Yemen took effect late on Wednesday, under a UN plan.

It is the sixth ceasefire since March last year in the country, where President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's forces – backed by a Saudi-led coalition – have been battling Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who control the country’s capital Sanaa.

Yemen has been ravaged by a civil war since late 2014, when the rebels overran Sanaa and a number of other provinces, forcing Hadi and his government to temporarily flee abroad to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in March last year to push the Houthis out of Sanaa and restore Hadi’s authority in the capital.

The coalition said it would respect the three-day cessation of hostilities, provided the Houthis allow aid supplies to reach combat areas and don't cause problems along Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia.

Shortly before the truce, the rebels' military spokesman, General Sharaf Lokman, said they would respect the ceasefire as long as "the enemy" also abided by it on land, sea and air.

However, he urged his fighters to be ready to retaliate against "all aggression."

On Monday, the UN special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, announced that the ceasefire would take effect "at 23:59 Yemen time (2059 GMT) on 19 October 2016, for an initial period of 72 hours, subject to renewal."

The ceasefire came hours after Saudi-led air strikes hit military bases in Sanaa.

The UN hopes the ceasefire might pave way for a resumption of peace talks between the two sides.

Hadi told state news agency Saba on Wednesday that he expected his foes would violate the truce.

"We don't expect from them today anything more than prevarication and procrastination," Hadi was quoted as saying after meeting the American and British ambassadors.

Earlier this month Saudi-led air strikes hit a Houthi funeral procession, killing at least 140 people and causing an international outcry.

The incident also raised questions over US support for the coalition, prompting the White House to state that it had begun an "immediate review" into its role in assisting it.​

TRTWorld and agencies