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UN announces 72-hour truce for war-ravaged Yemen

Yemen has been rocked by a deadly war since rebels overran the capital Sanaa in 2014. Photograph: (Getty)

AFP Aden, Yemen Oct 17, 2016, 09.33 PM (IST)

A 72-hour ceasefire in Yemen between the government and the Houthi-rebels will go into effect from Thursday, the United Nations announced on Monday.

A cessation of hostilities that first went into effect in April "will re-enter into force at 23:59 Yemen time (2059 GMT) on 19 October 2016, for an initial period of 72 hours, subject to renewal," the UN's special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said in a statement, the AFP reported.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said he had received assurances from all Yemeni parties for the truce, the BBC reported.

The announcement comes after Yemen's President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi agreed to the ceasefire in a statement earlier on Monday, urged by the United States, Britain and UN's peace envoy to Yemen.

"The President agreed to a 72 hrs ceasefire to be extended if the other party adheres to it, activates a truce observing committee and ends the siege of third-city Taez," Yemen's foreign minister Abdulmalek al-Mekhlafi had tweeted earlier.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir told Al-Arabiya news channel that his country was agreeable to the ceasefire. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition of Arab countries backs Yemen's president.

Saudi Arabia's impoverished neighbour has been engulfed in a deadly civil war after the pro-Iran Houthi rebels overran the capital Sanaa in 2014. The conflict escalated in 2015 after the Arab coalition launched a bombing campaign against the Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies.

The coalition has carried out hundreds of air strikes and provided ground troops to support Hadi's forces. But has failed to dislodge the Huthi rebels, who are allied with forces loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Almost 6,900 people have been killed, more than 35,000 wounded and at least three million displaced in the conflict since March last year, the UN has estimated.

The ceasefire comes after Sunday's meeting in London between US Secretary of State John Kerry, the UN envoy and his counterparts from Britain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to discuss the Yemen conflict.

Previous attempts to enforce a ceasefire in the country had failed. The situation aggravated in August after a round of peace talks in Kuwait ended without a breakthrough. The Saudi-led coalition stepped up its air raids and cross-border attacks from Yemen also intensified, AFP reported.

The previous ceasefire, announced at the beginning of the Kuwait talks, was hardly observed with both sides blaming each other for violating the truce.

The rebels still control large parts of the north, their historic stronghold areas, and other regions of western and central Yemen. The country's third-largest city, Taez, is almost completely surrounded by the Houthis

Taez, the country's third city, is almost completely surrounded by the Houthis and their allies. Loyalist forces have for months tried to break the rebel grip on the southwestern city but to no avail.

(WION with inputs from AFP)

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