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Yemen: Saudi-led coalition declares five-day ceasefire | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Saudi military cargo plane is seen at the international airport of Yemen’s southern port city of Aden, on July 24, 2015. (Reuters/Faisal Al-Nasser)

A Saudi military cargo plane is seen at the international airport of Yemen's southern port city of Aden, on July 24, 2015. (Reuters/Faisal Al-Nasser)

A Saudi military cargo plane is seen at the international airport of Yemen’s southern port city of Aden, on July 24, 2015. (Reuters/Faisal Al-Nasser)

Riyadh, Sana’a and Aden, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Saudi-led coalition targeting the Houthi movement in Yemen declared a five-day humanitarian ceasefire on Saturday, according to a statement by the coalition.

The statement also said however that airstrikes would resume immediately if Houthi militias carried out any military action during the five-day truce period, due to begin shortly before midnight on Sunday.

The ceasefire comes as a result of a request by Yemen’s President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, in order to allow humanitarian agencies to deliver much-needed aid to Yemenis caught up in the conflict.

The offer of a five-day humanitarian ceasefire was previously extended by the coalition to the Houthis in May, but airstrikes began immediately after the truce was declared due to Houthi transgressions and their targeting civilian areas.

The Houthis have not officially responded to the current ceasefire offer, but the group’s Twitter account on Sunday quoted leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi as saying “the battle goes on and the war is not over.” He also claimed the ceasefire would only benefit Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen.

The announcement of the ceasefire comes as forces loyal to President Hadi, known as the Popular Resistance, announced on Saturday they had recaptured the city of Sabr in the southern Lahj province from the Houthis and forces loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Local sources told Asharq Al-Awsat the Popular Resistance, aided by Saudi-led airstrikes, had succeeded in regaining control of the the provincial headquarters and other government buildings in the city from Houthi militias.

Meanwhile, fighting remains ongoing for control of the strategic Al-Anad airbase, Yemen’s largest, between the Popular Resistance on one side and the Houthis and Saleh-allied forces on the other.

The airbase, which has been under the control of the Houthis for months, lies some 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of the southern port city of Aden.

Aden was recently liberated from Houthi control by the Popular Resistance and last week members of Yemen’s government-in-exile began returning to the city in order to set up a rival power base to the Houthis’ in the capital Sana’a, which the group has controlled since September 2014.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone on Saturday, Aden’s governor Naif Al-Bakri said the government was officially resuming its duties from Aden on Sunday and that more members of the cabinet would be returning to the city on Monday via the main seaport.

A plan is already underway to “officially relocate the entire government to Aden,” he said. The government has taken up residence in the Saudi capital Riyadh since March.

The ministers will begin working to “rebuild public works and buildings, return life back to normal in Aden, and rebuild all that was damaged by the Houthis and forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh,” he said.

The crisis in Yemen began in September 2014, when the Houthis, backed by Iran and Saleh, took over the capital Sana’a and began spreading throughout other parts of the country.

The group launched a coup in February, holding President Hadi and members of the government under house arrest, forming an interim presidential council composed largely of Houthi members to run the affairs of the country.

Hadi and Prime Minister and Vice President Khaled Bahah eventually escaped house arrest and headed to Aden to form an alternative power base from the southern port city.

However, they were forced to flee again in March after Houthi militias besieged the city. Both then headed to Riyadh and Hadi requested Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launch a military campaign in Yemen targeting the Houthis and aiming to restore political legitimacy in the country.

Arafat Madabish and Mohamed Ali Mohsen contributed additional reporting from Sana’a and Aden.