Yemeni army and Shia rebels agree ceasefire

Government forces and Houthi rebels reach UN-mediated deal to end clashes in northern Yemen, UN officials say.

Houthis have been fighting the central government for years, complaining of marginalisation [AFP]

Yemeni forces and Shia Houthi rebels have reached a ceasefire deal to end clashes in the northern province of Amran following mediation backed by UN envoy Jamal Benomar.

The agreement was made on Wednesday between government officials and representatives of Ansarullah rebels to end the violence in Amran, the office of Benomar said.

State news agency Saba said the ceasefire agreement took effect at 09:00 GMT on Wednesday.

It stipulated an end to military reinforcements from both sides, deployment of impartial military monitors, and the opening of the main road to the capital city of Sanaa, said the agency.

Benomar held “intensive consultations” with representatives of military leaders as well as Ansarullah, his office said in a statement. 

He urged all sides to abide by all the points of the agreement “to reinstate security and stability in the region,” after dozens were killed in the clashes that flared at the end of May.

Earlier this week, government warplanes raided positions of the rebels who seized a strategic point that controls the road to Sanaa.

The government suspects Houthis are trying to expand their sphere of influence as Yemen is split into six regions, pushing out from their mountain strongholds in the far north to areas closer to Sanaa.

The rebels complained Yemen would be divided into rich and poor regions under a federalisation plan agreed in February following national talks as part of a political transition.

Houthis have been fighting the central government for years, complaining of marginalisation under ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted in a 2012 uprising.

In February, they seized areas of Amran province in fighting with tribes that killed more than 150 people.

Source: AFP