Saudi coalition kills 15 as rivals 'welcome' peace plan

Saudi coalition kills 15 as rivals 'welcome' peace plan
Coalition civilian death toll continues to rise as warring sides conditionally welcome the new international peace plan.
2 min read
28 August, 2016
Smoke rises after a Saudi coalition airstrike in Sanaa - August 27, 2016 [Anadolu]

Warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition struck a rebel convoy near a taxi stand in central Yemen, killing seven civilians and nine insurgents, officials said on Sunday.

The airstrikes hit three vehicles belonging to the Houthi rebels late Saturday near the Mafraq Sharab junction outside the southwestern city of Taiz, a military official said.

Medical sources said hospitals in Taiz received the bodies of seven civilians, while military sources said nine rebels were killed and 14 people were wounded.

The raid came during sporadic clashes in the city between the Iran-backed rebels and forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi who are supported by a Saudi-led coalition.

Around half of all civilian deaths in Yemen were killed in Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, a UN report said on Thursday.

US peace plan 'welcome'

The continued clashes come a day after Yemen's exiled government said that it welcomes in principle a US-backed plan to resume peace talks with Houthi rebels on the basis of forming a unity government.

During a meeting in Riyadh on Saturday, President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's cabinet gave an "initial welcoming to the ideas that came out of the meeting in Jeddah". The previous meeting in Jeddah included US Secretary of State John Kerry, who announced a fresh international peace initiative to resolve Yemen's conflict on Thursday.

The plan offers Houthi rebels and their allies a place in a new unity government, however demands that they withdraw from several key areas, including the capital Sanaa. The plan also requires the rebels to surrender their heavy weaponry. 

On Sunday, the Houthi rebels also expressed a wilingness to accept the plan during its weekly meeting at Sanaa's presidential palace.

The rebels' governing council said that its willingness to restart peace talks was contingent on the "total cessation of the aggression and lifting of the unjust siege on the Yemeni people".

A UN-led initiative to bring an end to the 17-month war collapsed earlier this month, after three months of discussions.

More than 6,600 have died since Saudi Arabia launched a military campaign against Houthis in Yemen, forcing more than three million to flee the conflict.