Peace talks a week away, Yemen cease-fire marred by continued battles

SANAA, Yemen, A cease-fire in Yemen didn’t last long Monday before it was marred by reports of fighting between coalition fighters and rebels.

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Witnesses and officials reported fighting in various parts of Yemen, including alleged airstrikes launched by Saudi-led coalition forces.

The attacks began just hours after a cease-fire took effect Sunday — including strikes in Taiz, located about 35 miles east of the capital, San’aa.

The unauthorized fighting took place Monday, a week before scheduled United Nations-brokered peace talks to end yearlong fighting between the Saudi military coalition and Houthi rebels.

It wasn’t immediately clear who began the fighting Monday.

“Now is the time to step back from the brink,” U.N. envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said. “The progress made represents a real opportunity to rebuild a country that has suffered far too much violence for far too long.”

Many have been skeptical that the cease-fire would be effective, as certain factions aligned with the coalition previously said they wouldn’t honor the agreement.

The cease-fire took effect midnight Sunday and was to remain until the scheduled peace talks April 18.

The coalition, comprised mostly of pro-Saudi Sunni Arab allies, first began air strikes in March 2015 to defeat the Houthis and restore Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s regime.

U.N. officials say more than 6,000 people have died in fighting in Yemen since the battles began 13 months ago.

UPI