UN Slams Saudi-Led Attacks as Houthis Accept Ceasefire

UN Slams Saudi-Led Attacks as Houthis Accept CeasefireUN Slams Saudi-Led Attacks as Houthis Accept Ceasefire

Ceasefire efforts in Yemen after more than six weeks of Saudi-led airstrikes gathered pace after Houthi forces said they would respond positively to a Saudi-proposed truce plan. Meanwhile, a senior UN official said some Saudi-led airstrikes have "violated international law."

"The indiscriminate bombing of populated areas, with or without prior warning, is in contravention of international humanitarian law," the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Johannes van der Klaauw said in a statement later in the day.

"Many civilians are effectively trapped in Saada as they are unable to access transport because of the fuel shortage. The targeting of an entire governorate will put countless civilians at risk," Reuters said in a report.

The Saudi-led coalition said on Saturday it had hit Yemen with 130 airstrikes over the previous 24 hours.

The coalition of Arab states had called on civilians to evacuate Saada, the city in northern Yemen where support for Houthi forces is strongest, before the bombing but it was unclear how they could leave.

A coalition spokesman said the latest wave of aerial bombing, on about 100 locations, was in response to the shelling of Saudi border areas by Houthi forces this week.

The airstrikes targeted bases of Houthi leaders across Saada and Hajja provinces, said Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, as well as hitting tanks and other military vehicles.

Other strikes targeted Sanaa airport's runway, a Yemeni official there said, and Houthi targets in the al-Sadda district of Ibb in central Yemen, residents there said.

In the southern port city of Aden, clashes continued on Friday and Saturday in the central Crater, Khor Maksar and Mualla districts as the Houthis and forces loyal to Saleh shelled local militias trying to oust them from the city.

Houthis Agree to Truce

Houthis accepted on Sunday a five-day humanitarian ceasefire proposed by Saudi Arabia but said they would respond to any violations.

Colonel Sharaf Luqman, spokesperson for the Houthi-allied army, said on Sunday that Yemeni forces agreed to the truce but would confront any attacks by fighters loyal to the fugitive president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi on battlefronts which stretch across much of the impoverished country.

Neighboring Saudi Arabia had said on Friday that the ceasefire could begin on Tuesday if the Houthi forces agreed to the pause, which would let in badly needed food and medical supplies.

Backed by the United States, a Saudi-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against the Houthis and army units loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh since March 26 with the aim of restoring the government of Hadi.

The Houthis say their campaign is aimed at defeating al-Qaeda militants based in Yemen and accuse Hadi's forces of supporting the group.

"Any military violation of the ceasefire from al-Qaeda and those who stand with it ... will be responded to," Luqman said in a statement published by Saba news agency.

Saleh's Residence Bombed

Warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition bombed the residence of Ali Abdullah Saleh early on Sunday in the capital, Sanaa, but the ousted president is believed to be safe, witnesses said.

Three airstrikes hit Saleh's residence on Sunday morning, but the president and his family are "well," a report by Reuters said.

However, several members of Houthis and forces allied to Saleh were killed reportedly killed during an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition.

Plumes of smoke were seen rising from the area in the latest strike in Sanaa following a night of intensive air raids against rebel positions after Houthis shelled a Saudi border town on Thursday.

Arab airstrikes and heavy shelling on Sunday rocked the southern city of Aden, the epicenter of fighting for more than six weeks, and southern fighters questioned the proposed pause.