Houthis, Yemeni army welcome Saudi proposal for 5-day truce

Updated: 2015-05-10 19:48


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Houthis, Yemeni army welcome Saudi proposal for 5-day truce

People flee as smoke billows after air strikes hit the house of Yemen's former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa May 10, 2015.[Photo/Agencies]

SANAA -- Yemen's rebel Shiite Houthi group and the army welcomed early Sunday a Saudi proposal for a five-day ceasefire to allow aids to be delivered to the country, as battles and air strikes have caused severe humanitarian crisis in the impoverished country.

"We welcome the five-day humanitarian truce announced by the Saudi foreign minister that will start on Tuesday," Houthi spokesman Hussein al-Ezzy said in a brief statement early Sunday, without providing further details.

Saudi Arabia, which leads a nine-country coalition forces against the Houthi group, announced on Friday a halt of air strikes in Yemen for five days beginning on Tuesday, as the air raids and battles have caused a worsening humanitarian crisis.

In a press conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the cease-fire would begin on Tuesday night and the implementation was contingent on cooperation by the Houthis.

Meanwhile, the spokesman of the Yemeni army welcomed the cease-fire in a statement posted Sunday on the state-run Saba news agency, which is under control of the Houthi group.

"Based on the efforts of some brotherly and friendly countries to impose a humanitarian truce, to pause the brutal siege and allow commercial vessels and humanitarian aid access to Yemeni ports, we declare our agreement with this humanitarian truce, which is to begin on Tuesday," Colonel Sharaf Ghaleb Lukman was quoted by Saba as saying.

"Any military breach of the truce by al-Qaida elements or those who stand with al-Qaida or support it, then the military, security units and popular committees will respond as our right to defend the Yemeni people from the brutal aggression and unjust," he added. The Houthi group accused exiled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi of supporting al-Qaida, while is denied by Hadi.

The Saudi-led coalition forces continued its air strikes overnight on Yemen's capital of Sanaa and the northern Saada province, the stronghold of the Houthi group.

The air raid campaign was intensified since Saturday after Houthi fighters shelled the border areas and killed civilians in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia threatened to target Houthi leaders and warned civilians in Saada province of intensified bombing.

Thousands of people fled Saada province to neighboring Hajja, Amran and al-Jouf on Saturday in fear of the air raids, seeking shelters in remote villages, hours after Saudi Arabia urged them to evacuate from places near Houthi targets in Saada province.

Warplanes bombed Houthi military targets in Saada province on Saturday, including weapon depots and telecommunication centers. The raids also destroyed the house of the Houthi leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi and his spokesman Mohamed Abdulsalam, according to tribal sources. Most of the airstrikes hit Marran village where the Houthi leader was born.

The airstrikes also targeted houses of Houthi leaders in the provinces of al-Jouf, Marib and Ibb. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Meanwhile, Saudi-led fighter jets bombed Sanaa international airport in the capital of Sanaa on Saturday morning for the third time in the past month and destroyed the runway, the airport official told Xinhua.

The Saudi-led coalition forces launched on March 26 the bombing campaign against the Shiite Houthi group and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who forced President Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabi, aiming to reinstate the Yemeni government.

The death toll of battles and air strikes have reached more than 1,200, while more than 3,000 people were wounded across the country, according to statistics released by the Yemeni government.

Hundreds of thousands of people, especially in the southern regions,fled their homes after Houthi fighters entered southern provinces to fight supporters of Hadi.