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Friday, 8 May 2015

Saudi FM offers ceasefire as warplanes pound Yemen rebels

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister vowed Friday that a ceasefire would begin on May 12, despite Saudi-led coalition attacks on Thursday against Yemeni rebels.

Warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition conducted Thursday's air strikes in retaliation for deadly cross-border bombardments.

"We have made a decision that the ceasefire will begin this Tuesday, May 12, at 11.00 pm and will last for five days subject to renewal if it works out," Adel Al Jubeir said at a meeting of Gulf ministers in Paris.

His announcement comes a day after Saudi-led raids targeted control centres, a communications complex, a landmine factory and other rebel positions in Yemen’s northern Saada province.

Witnesses in Saada said coalition jets dropped leaflets urging residents to leave and an AFP correspondent in Sanaa reported scores of families arriving on Friday.

"Red line crossed"

The coalition warned that "all of Saada will be a military target to coalition strikes after 7:00 pm (1600 GMT)" Friday, Saudi media said.

Saudi Arabia, which has led six weeks of air strikes on Yemen in support of exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, warned Thursday that Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels had crossed a "red line" by shelling populated border areas in the kingdom.

"The equation is different, the confrontation is different, and they will pay a harsh and expensive price," coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri said.

"The safety of Saudi Arabia is a top priority for the coalition and the Saudi armed forces. It is a red line they crossed."

Towards a five-day truce?

Despite the current bombardments, Saudi Arabia has called on the Houthi rebels to accept the May 12 truce.

“We hope the Houthis will come to their senses and realise the interests of Yemen and the Yemeni people should be the top priority for everyone,” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference after a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Kerry remained cautious about the chance of a ceasefire, saying that there were “some indications but no certainty” that Houthi rebels would accept the five-day truce.
The United States has supported the Saudi-led coalition, which began strikes against the Houthis and forces loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh on March 26, with the aim of restoring the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

 france24.com
8/4/15

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