15 Dec 2015

Yemen civil war: ceasefire comes into effect

A ceasefire in Yemen takes effect in the midst of a civil war that has led to the deaths of nearly 6,000 people.

Despite UN peace talks, fighting has been raging across Yemen in the lead-up to the ceasefire, with reports that at least 15 civilians have been killed in Saudi-led air strikes in the north of the country.

The truce appears to be largely holding, but Saudi state TV said there had been 20 violations by the Iran-allied Houthis in the first hour of the seven-day ceasefire.

Before the ceasefire came into effect at noon local time, the Saudi-led Arab alliance said a Saudi commander and an Emirati officer had been killed in a rocket strike.

Negotiators meeting in Switzerland are trying to reach agreement on how to implement a UN Security Council resolution that calls on the Houthis (pictured above) to leave the capital, Sanaa, and other cities they seized in late 2014 and early 2015.

The civil war in Yemen has pitted Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia against Shia Iran.

Military campaign

The Saudi-led coalition launched a military campaign in March to stop the Houthis, whom they see as a proxy for Iran, from taking complete control of Yemen after seizing much of the north last year.

It is seeking to restore President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi’s government.

The Houthis, who are backed by troops loyal to Yemen’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, accuse the coalition of launching a war of aggression and say they are fighting state corruption and al-Qaeda.

A previous round of peace talks in Geneva in June failed to produce a breakthrough, with each side blaming the other for the failure of the negotiations.