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Raids intensify despite UN call to extend Yemen truce

PHOTO: : SALEH AL-OBEIDI (AFP/FILE)

PHOTO: : SALEH AL-OBEIDI (AFP/FILE)

Warplanes from the pro-government Arab coalition on Sunday conducted strikes on rebel positions in Yemen, officials said, hours after the UN envoy appealed for the renewal of a ceasefire.

The raids targeted positions of the Iran-backed Shiite rebels and their allies of renegade troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa, the military officials and rebel media said.

“An extension (of the truce) would be useless, because even if we accept it, the other party does not make any commitment to respect the ceasefire,” Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalek al-Mekhlafi told AFP.

The dawn raids also hit positions in Marib, east of the rebel-held capital, and the southwestern province of Taez, the officials said.

The intensity of air raids by the Saudi-led coalition had eased during the 72-hour ceasefire that ended at midnight (2100 GMT) Saturday.

The UN special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, had appealed for a renewal of the humanitarian truce shortly before it expired.

“We noted over the last days that food and humanitarian supplies were provided to several affected neighbourhoods and that UN personnel were able to reach areas that were previously inaccessible,” he said.

“We would like to build on this and we aim for a wider outreach in the next few days.”

The envoy had said the ceasefire was “largely holding despite reported violations from both sides in several areas”.

But fighting on the ground was showing no signs of abating.

Fierce fighting raged in northern regions along the borders with Saudi Arabia over the weekend, killing at least 10 rebels and four Yemeni soldiers, military officials said.

It is the sixth ceasefire attempt since the coalition intervened in March last year to support the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after Huthis overran much of the impoverished country.

Nearly 6,900 people have been killed in the conflict, more than half of them civilians, while an additional three million are displaced and millions more need food aid.

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