Yemen ceasefire announcement within 24 hours: Houthi-run agency

A humanitarian ceasefire for Yemen is expected to be announced within 24 hours, the news agency of the dominant, Iranian-allied Houthi group quoted the U.N. special envoy to the country as saying.

The report by the Saba news agency came as the envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, left the capital Sanaa after meeting Houthi officials. The talks were part of intensive efforts to broker a ceasefire to halt more than three months of fighting and Saudi-led air strikes that have killed more than 3,000 people.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed had earlier held talks with exiled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in the Saudi capital Riyadh on a ceasefire that would last until after the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, which is expected to start on July 17.

Hadi’s government told the United Nations on Wednesday it would agree to a humanitarian truce provided key guarantees were met, government spokesman Rajeh Badi told Reuters by phone.

These included a release of prisoners, including the defense minister, by the Houthis, and their withdrawal from four southern and eastern provinces where they are fighting local militias.

Saudi Arabia and an Arab coalition have been bombing the Houthis and their allies in Yemen’s army in an effort to restore Hadi and bolster armed opponents of the Houthis.

There was no immediate comment from the Houthi movement, which views its takeover of Sanaa last September, and of much of the country since, as a revolution against a corrupt government backed by the West.

The group has previously welcomed any ceasefire.

The Houthis have yet to accept a U.N. Security Council Resolution passed in April which recognizes Hadi as the legitimate president and calls on them to quit seized land.

Aid agencies say the fighting and a near-blockade imposed by an alliance of Arab states, aimed at stopping weapons deliveries to the Houthis, have caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

A humanitarian ceasefire for Yemen is expected to be announced within 24 hours, the news agency of the dominant, Iranian-allied Houthi group quoted the U.N. special envoy to the country as saying.

The report by the Saba news agency came as the envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, left the capital Sanaa after meeting Houthi officials. The talks were part of intensive efforts to broker a ceasefire to halt more than three months of fighting and Saudi-led air strikes that have killed more than 3,000 people.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed had earlier held talks with exiled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in the Saudi capital Riyadh on a ceasefire that would last until after the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, which is expected to start on July 17.

Hadi’s government told the United Nations on Wednesday it would agree to a humanitarian truce provided key guarantees were met, government spokesman Rajeh Badi told Reuters by phone.

These included a release of prisoners, including the defense minister, by the Houthis, and their withdrawal from four southern and eastern provinces where they are fighting local militias.

Saudi Arabia and an Arab coalition have been bombing the Houthis and their allies in Yemen’s army in an effort to restore Hadi and bolster armed opponents of the Houthis.

There was no immediate comment from the Houthi movement, which views its takeover of Sanaa last September, and of much of the country since, as a revolution against a corrupt government backed by the West.

The group has previously welcomed any ceasefire.

The Houthis have yet to accept a U.N. Security Council Resolution passed in April which recognizes Hadi as the legitimate president and calls on them to quit seized land.

Aid agencies say the fighting and a near-blockade imposed by an alliance of Arab states, aimed at stopping weapons deliveries to the Houthis, have caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

By Reuters