The Saudi-led military coalition active in Yemen has announced a ceasefire for the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. "The coalition hereby announces the cessation of military operations in Yemen for from Wednesday morning at 6 a.m.," the coalition said Tuesday, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
The ceasefire "coincides with the start of Yemeni-Yemeni consultations." The aim is to "create the appropriate conditions" for the "success" of the talks and "create a positive environment for the peace deal in Yemen during the holy month of Ramadan," it added.
The Huthi rebels, however, did not want to attend Wednesday's meeting in the Saudi capital of Riyadh - enemy territory in their eyes. Representatives of Yemen's internationally recognized government, the U.S., and the U.N. are gathering there.
Huthi rebels had initially declared a three-day cease-fire over the weekend and offered a "permanent" truce. "We are ready to turn this declaration (of the three-day cease-fire) into a final and permanent commitment," rebel leader Mahdi al-Mashat said. In return, he said, Saudi Arabia must "end the siege and stop its attacks on Yemen once and for all."
Earlier, the rebels attacked several targets in Saudi Arabia, including an oil facility near the Formula One race track in Jeddah. Regardless of the ceasefire declared by the Huthis, the coalition flew airstrikes in Yemen on Sunday.
On Sunday, the rebels had also announced an agreement for a major prisoner exchange. The government said the exchange was "under consideration."
Yemen has been at war since 2015 between President Abd Rabbo Mansur Hadi's forces, backed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Arab states, and Iran-backed Huthi rebels. Some 380,000 people have already been killed in the conflict, according to UN figures, and millions more have been forced to flee.
Image by Rohit Verma