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Yemen ceasefire to take effect Sunday midnight

Militants loyal to resigned President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi gather at the military base of Nehm on April 7, 2016. ©AFP

A UN-brokered ceasefire for Yemen is expected to come into effect in the run-up to peace talks in Kuwait.

The ceasefire is due to begin at midnight (2100 GMT) Sunday. It will initially go into effect in the war-ravaged Ta’iz and Hajjah provinces.

This as sporadic fighting was reported in several regions around the capital, Sana’a, on Sunday.  Twenty people were killed as Saudi warplanes carried out several airstrikes across the capital to prevent advances of Houthi fighters.

The truce was announced by the UN special envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed as a step to calm the situation ahead of the negotiations to be held on April 18 in Kuwait.

It was endorsed by Houthi Ansarullah movement and resigned president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s loyalists. Both sides said earlier this week that they submitted their documents on terms of the truce to the UN envoy.

Local reports said that a number of Saudi mercenaries and Hadi loyalists were deployed to Nihm, near Sana’a.

The deployment is aimed at launching a military operation to seize the control of the capital if the upcoming talks fail to end the conflict.

Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri, the Saudi military spokesman, warned Ansarullah movement and Hadi loyalists that war will be the only option if the upcoming talks fail.

He added that the Saudi-led coalition was ready to stop its airstrikes if Houthis commit to the UN Resolution 2216 and withdrew from cities.

On December 15, an Ansarullah delegation and Hadi’s representatives began UN-brokered peace talks in Switzerland with the aim of reaching a solution to the country’s conflict. The talks led to a shaky truce that was repeatedly breached mainly by the Saudis before they officially announced an end to it on January 2.

The Houthi Ansarullah movement took state matters into their own hands after the resignation of Hadi, which threw Yemen into a state of uncertainty and threatened a total security breakdown in the country, where an al-Qaeda offshoot is present.

Saudi Arabia has been waging a war on Yemen since late March 2015 in a bid to return Hadi to power. Nearly 9,400 Yemenis, including 4,000 women and children, have lost their lives in the deadly military campaign.

Yemenis, in return, have been carrying out retaliatory attacks on the Saudi forces deployed in the country as well as targets inside Saudi Arabia.

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