Yemen cease-fire appears to be holding

Yemen cease-fire appears to be holding
A humanitarian truce in Yemen appeared to be holding on Wednesday, despite reports of air strikes overnight and continued military operations by rebels.
2 min read
Smoke billows after an air-strike on an army camp in Sanaa 12/05 [Mohamad Huwais/AFP/Getty]

With cargo ships poised to launch a desperately needed aid operation in embattled Yemen, a five-day humanitarian cease-fire began Tuesday night, just hours after Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck against rebels and their allies.

The ceasefire began at 11 p.m. (2000 GMT) said a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition that has been striking Yemen's Houthi rebels since March 26, but clashes persisted after that in some areas.

"Sanaa had a quiet night as the noise of bombs and anti-aircraft fire that had terrified everyone came to a halt," said a resident of the rebel-held capital, Tawfiq Abdulwahab.

There were reports of continued ground fighting in some areas, with security officials and witnesses saying fierce combat broke out about a half hour after the cease-fire began when rebels tried to storm the southern city of Dhale, firing tank shells, rockets and mortars.

But no airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition were reported. 

The truce will test the adversaries' desire to enter into peace talks to try to end the fighting that has killed hundreds of civilians since March. Both sides say they are ready to respond with violence if their opponent breaks the cease-fire.  

Earlier Tuesday, Iran said it was sending warships to protect an Iranian aid ship steaming toward a Yemeni port held by the rebel fighters, the Iranian state news agency said.

The navy escort was denounced by the Pentagon and Saudi Arabia as unnecessary, and raised the possibility of a confrontation near the strategic Bab el-Mandab strait in the Gulf of Aden.  

Hourse before the start of the truce, Saudi-led warplanes carried out strikes on an arms depot in Yemeni capital on Tuesday.  

The airstrike was the second in as many days that targetd the arms depot in a military base on Mount Noqum in the eastern outskirts of Sanaa.  

Twin strikes on Monday killed at least five people and wounded 20, as huge explosions sent debris crashing into a residential area at the foot of the mountain.  

An April 21 coalition raid on a rebel-held missile base in Sanaa set off explosions that killed 38 people and wounded 532.   

Riyadh has stressed that the cease-fire is conditional on the rebels reciprocating and not exploiting itg for military advantage.   

The United Nations has expressed deep concern about the civilian death toll from the bombing campaign and the humanitarian impact of the accompanying air and sea blockade Saudi Arabia and its allies have imposed on its neighbour.  

Aid groups have warned that five days is not enough to get in the supplies that are needed.