Middle East

Yemen conflict: No extension to 48-hour truce

A man walks over the remains of a building destroyed by fighting in Taiz, Yemen (20 November 2016) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Fighting continued around the city of Taiz during the cessation of hostilities

The Saudi-led multinational coalition fighting the Houthi rebel movement in Yemen says a 48-hour cessation of hostilities will not be extended.

A coalition spokesman said the truce, which ended at midday (09:00 GMT), had been violated repeatedly by the rebels.

A pro-Houthi Yemeni army spokesman also accused the coalition of breaches.

The truce brought residents of the capital, Sanaa, a brief respite from air strikes. But fighting continued around the city of Taiz.

More than 7,000 people have been killed since the conflict in Yemen escalated in March 2015, when the coalition launched a military campaign in support of the government against the Houthis and allied security units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

More than three million people have also been displaced by the fighting, and 21 million are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance.

The coalition had said the cessation of hostilities, which came into effect on Saturday, might be extended if the rebels abided by it and allowed aid deliveries into besieged areas.

But on Monday coalition spokesman Maj-Gen Ahmed al-Asiri told AFP news agency: "There is no respect [for the truce], only violations."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The truce brought residents of the capital, Sanaa, a brief respite from coalition air strikes

"There have been more people killed in Taiz and more attacks with surface-to-surface missiles, so automatically the conditions are not there [for an extension]."

Gen Asiri accused the rebels of 563 breaches inside Yemen and 163 across the border in Saudi Arabia.

A spokesman for Yemeni forces fighting alongside the Houthis, Brig Gen Sharaf Luqman, told the Saba news agency that coalition fighter jets "and their mercenaries" had been responsible for 114 violations over two days, dropping cluster weapons and shelling areas near the Saudi border.

"The army and popular forces will reserve all rights to respond to any breaches and violations by the enemies against our citizens, vital facilities and infrastructure services," he added.

Fifteen rebels and nine loyalist troops were killed in fighting overnight in and around Taiz, military and medical sources told AFP. Four civilians living in areas besieged by the rebels over the past year were also killed by shellfire, the sources said.

Coalition warplanes also resumed air strikes around Sanaa early on Monday, reportedly bombing military positions on a mountain overlooking the capital.