DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A Saudi-led coalition battling rebels who hold Yemen’s capital began a unilateral cease-fire Wednesday in the yearslong war, even as the insurgents said they rejected the proposal.
The Saudi-proposed pause in fighting began at 6 a.m. ahead of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Several similar efforts have failed, and there was no immediate independent confirmation on whether hostilities paused between Saudi-led forces and Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
The cease-fire announcement late Tuesday had raised immediate doubts because the Iran-backed rebels are skipping an ongoing summit over the war in Saudi Arabia, called by the Saudi-based Gulf Cooperation Council, because it’s taking place on their adversary’s territory.
“If the blockade is not lifted, the declaration of the coalition of aggression to stop its military operations will be meaningless because the suffering of Yemenis as a result of the blockade is more severe than the war itself,” he wrote on Twitter early Wednesday.
Yemen’s war began in September 2014, when the Houthis swept into the capital, Sanaa, from their northwestern stronghold in the Arab world’s poorest country. The Houthis then pushed into exile the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, elected in 2012 as the sole candidate after the long rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh.
A Saudi-led coalition, including the UAE, entered the war in March 2015 to try and restore Hadi’s government to power. But the war stretched into long bloody years, pushing Yemen to the brink of famine.