Five-day truce declared between Saudis and Yemen

  • 26/07/2015
Child injured during recent Saudi-led air strike (Reuters)
Child injured during recent Saudi-led air strike (Reuters)

By Fawaz al-Haidari

The Saudi-led coalition bombing Yemeni rebels since March has declared a five-day truce so aid can reach a country the UN says is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster.

Announcing the unilateral truce to begin from midnight tonight, a statement on the official Saudi Press Agency on Saturday said the coalition also reserved the right to respond to "military activity or movement" by the Shi'ite Huthi rebels during the ceasefire.

SPA said the decision was taken at the request of Yemen's President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who has taken refuge in the Saudi capital with much of his government.

Hadi, whose supporters have recaptured most of the southern port of Aden from the rebels after four months of war, wanted the truce for the "delivery and distribution of the maximum amount of humanitarian and medical aid", it said.

Two previous UN-brokered ceasefires failed to take hold.

The Saudi move came as Yemeni medical sources said a coalition air raid killed at least 35 civilians in the southwest of the war-ravaged Arabian Peninsula nation.

Women and children were among the dead in the Friday night strike on the town of Mokhba near the country's third city Taez, the sources said.

Residents said the raid hit a residential neighbourhood where employees of the town's power station live. They said several houses were destroyed and dozens of people were wounded.

Some witnesses said the district had been targeted by mistake, but others alleged that the Huthis had taken up positions in the area.

In March, the coalition began a campaign of air strikes after the Huthis swept into Sanaa and pushed south towards Aden, where Hadi initially took refuge before fleeing to Riyadh.

Coalition jets carried out fresh raids overnight on Huthi positions across Yemen, including around Aden, military sources said Saturday.