Yemen ceasefire holding despite breaches

  • 16/12/2015

Yemen's dominant Houthi group and Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government have accused each other of violating a ceasefire aimed at facilitating Yemen ceasefire holding despite breaches UN-sponsored peace talks, although the truce appears to be largely holding.

The seven-day truce began at mid-day on Tuesday (local time) as representatives of Hadi's government and the Iran-allied Houthis began talks in Switzerland to try to end nine months of fighting that has killed nearly 6000 people and dragged in foreign powers.

Brigadier General Sharaf Luqman, a spokesman for Yemeni forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is allied with the Houthis, said a "serious escalation by land, sea and air is taking place by the alliance in various areas", according to the Houthi-controlled Saba news agency.

Luqman said strikes from the sea were taking place on the Red Sea port city of Hodaida, while ground forces continued to carry out attacks on Taiz city, in southwestern Yemen, while air strikes by the Arab coalition had not stopped.

"We will not stay hand-tied but we will respond strongly towards the breaches that are taking place by the alliance and their mercenaries," Luqman said.

The Hadi-run news agency said five fighters from a force known as the Popular Resistance and three civilians died as a result of Houthi shelling in Taiz in the six hours after the ceasefire began.

The agency quoted a medical source as saying 17 people were wounded.

The Saudi-led coalition spokesman, Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri, said the alliance was committed to the ceasefire but was ready to respond to any violation by the Houthis, according to the Saudi al-Riyadh daily.