Truce begins in Yemen, warring sides pledge to respect ceasefire

Marib: All sides in Yemen's year-long war pledged to honour a UN-brokered ceasefire which took effect at
midnight yesterday, adding to cautious optimism ahead of new talks to reach a lasting peace deal.

Fighting over the past year has killed thousands, displaced 2.4 million, and drawn in Yemen's neighbours.
The chief of staff of forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi confirmed "the ceasefire has taken effect" at 2100 GMT.

General Mohamed Ali al-Makdashi told reporters that "we are going to respect it... unless the Huthi rebels violate it".

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Three earlier attempts at ceasefires collapsed after a Saudi-led coalition in March last year began air strikes to support the Hadi government.

The coalition intervened after Zaidi Shiite Huthis overran the capital Sanaa in September 2014 and later advanced to other regions. Chaos and misery have ruled the Arabian Peninsula country since, while pressure built for an end to the violence.

The Iran-backed Huthis, along with allied troops loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have sent the United Nations a letter committing to "cease land, sea and air military operations" throughout Yemen, according to a communique carried by the rebel-run Saba news agency.

In a contrast to earlier ceasefire attempts, some Huthi leaders met with loyalist troops on a joint committee to make sure both sides comply with the truce, coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri said.

"And they will monitor all the personnel on the ground, to not violate the ceasefire," he said, adding the committee is supervised by the coalition which has also pledged to abide by the ceasefire.

"We issued the orders to the forces that they will respect the ceasefire at midnight," Assiri said. But the Arab alliance said it reserved the right to respond to any rebel violations.

Rights groups have criticised the civilian toll from coalition bombings.

UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed last month announced the ceasefire would occur ahead of 18 April peace talks in Kuwait.

In the lead-up to the truce, rebels and their allies yesterday exchanged mortar and artillery fire with pro-Hadi forces in Sarwah region of Marib province east of Sanaa.

The truce was only agreed by the warring sides after months of shuttle diplomacy by the UN envoy.

Updated Date: Apr 11, 2016 08:12 AM

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