An official with the Houthi rebel movement in Yemen has said it will stop aiming missiles and drones at Saudi Arabia, adding that the movement expected the kingdom to reciprocate by stopping all attacks against them and warning that a continuation of the war could lead to “dangerous developments”.
The announcement was made on Friday night by Mahdi al-Mashat, head of the Houthi’s supreme political council, which controls the rebel-held areas in Yemen.
“We declare ceasing to target the Saudi Arabian territory with military drones, ballistic missiles and all other forms of weapons, and we wait for a reciprocal move from them,” Mashat said on the Houthi-run Al Masirah TV.
“We reserve the right to respond if they fail to reciprocate positively to this initiative,” he said, adding that the continuation of the Yemen war “will not benefit any side”.
The announcement by the Houthis came nearly a week after they claimed a major attack on Saudi oil facilities.
Iran denies being involved, warning that any retaliatory strike on it by the US or Saudi Arabia will result in “an all-out war“.
‘Preserve blood of Yemenis’
“I call on all parties from different sides of the war to engage seriously in genuine negotiations that can lead to a comprehensive national reconciliation that does not exclude anyone,” said Mashat.
He added a major goal of the ceasefire was to “preserve the blood of Yemenis and achieve a general amnesty”.
The Saudi-led military coalition did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Houthi announcement.
Mashat also called for the reopening of Sanaa’s international airport and open access to Yemen’s Red Sea port of Hodeidah, a crucial entry point for imports and humanitarian aid that has been at the centre of United Nations-brokered talks.
The Western-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis removed the internationally recognised government in Sanaa in late 2014.
The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people so far and left millions on the brink of famine, sparking what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The Houthi rebels have repeatedly targeted key Saudi infrastructure in recent months in cross-border attacks. Earlier this week, they said they had picked out dozens of sites in the UAE as possible targets for future attacks.
Earlier on Friday, Saudi officials brought journalists to the site of the Abqaiq oil processing facility, one of the two locations hit in drone and missile attacks on September 14.
The Yemen conflict is largely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.