Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen reportedly said on Sunday that they had accepted a five-day cease-fire proposed by Saudi Arabia earlier last week.
The truce is aimed at allowing much-needed humanitarian aid to flow into Yemen, which imported 90 percent of its food before the country descended into chaos.
Fighting on the ground and Saudi-led airstrikes have left many people without access to food and oil.
Saudi-led airstrikes against the Houthis and their allies, which started on March 26, continued after the Shiite rebels accepted the temporary suspension of hostilities — expected to begin on Tuesday at 11 p.m.
“Yet as the Houthis accepted the limited truce, the Saudi-led military coalition bombed the residential compound of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s former president and the Houthis’ most important ally in the war,” reported The New York Times (NYT). “The residence, in Sana, the Yemeni capital, was struck at least seven times early Sunday, witnesses said. Mr. Saleh, who survived, made a defiant statement on television afterward, standing amid the rubble of his compound.”
“With rockets and warplanes, you do not achieve any of the goals you seek,” Saleh reportedly said on Sunday, addressing the Saudis. “You are welcome on the ground: Move and we will meet you with a wonderful welcome.”
The Saudi-led coalition has intensified its air campaign since proposing a temporary halt in Yemen’s war last week, “apparently trying to inflict as much damage as possible on the Houthis and their allies before any pause in the conflict,” noted The Times.
Analysts reportedly said that the Saudi-led campaign has failed to meet its stated goals — debilitating the Houthis and restore Yemen’s internationally recognized President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi Hadi to power.
In a statement accepting the truce, the Shiite Houthi rebels said they would “respond” to any breach of the cease-fire by “Al Qaeda or those who stand with them.”
The Houthis have asserted numerous times that their opponents, “who include southern separatists; supporters of Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Yemen’s exiled president; moderate Islamists; and more hard-line groups, all belong to Al Qaeda,” pointed out the NYT article.
More than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the Saudis began bombing the Houthis and their allies, military units loyal to Yemen’s former President Saleh.