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Leader of Yemen's Shiite Huthi rebels proposes border truce with Saudi Arabia

More than 6,600 people, most of them civilians, have been killed since the Saudi-led coalition took on the Houthi rebels in March 2015. Photograph: (Reuters)

Sanaa, Yemen Sep 26, 2016, 02.36 AM (IST)
A leader of Yemen's Shiite Huthi rebels on Sunday proposed a truce on the country's border with Saudi Arabia in an exchange for a halt in Saudi-led strikes on his forces.

The proposal, coinciding with a surge in fighting after peace talks were suspended last month, was made by Salah al-Sammad, head of a new council appointed by the rebels and their allies to run the country.

Sammad called on Saudi Arabia to "stop naval, air and land aggression, cease air raids and lift the blockade of our country, in exchange for an end to combat operations on the border and to (rebel) missile launches into Saudi territory," he said, in a speech published on the sabanews website.

Sammad, whose body is not recognised by the international community, also urged the UN and "peace-loving states" to exert pressure on the Saudi regime to accept the offer.

He also suggested an amnesty for "combatants who have sided with the aggression," a reference to fighters who back President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The Huthis are allied with soldiers loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In late 2014 they seized Yemen's capital Sanaa before moving into other parts of the country. 

Saudi Arabia in March 2015 formed an Arab coalition to begin air strikes and ground support for forces loyal to Hadi, who fled to Riyadh.

More than 6,600 people, most of them civilians, have been killed since the coalition launched its intervention and at least three million people have been displaced, according to the United Nations.

The latest round of UN-led talks between the government and the Huthis ended acrimoniously on August 6 without a breakthrough and a ceasefire that had been in place since April collapsed.

Hadi, in a fierce address to the UN in New York on Friday, accused of Iran of blocking peace moves through its support for the rebels.

"We shall extract Yemen from the claws of Iran. We shall raise the Yemeni flag over every foot of our precious soil," Hadi told the General Assembly.

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