Saudi Arabia and the United States on Thursday announced a five-day, renewable cease-fire in Yemen’s war to allow aid to reach millions of civilians caught in a humanitarian crisis from the conflict. But the truce is dependent on Iran-backed rebels and their allies also agreeing to stop fighting, they said.
The announcement came as battles raged in several parts of Yemen between forces loyal to the nation’s internationally recognized president and the Shiite rebels and their allies. Military and security officials said the rebel forces Thursday advanced on the suburb of Dar Saad north of the strategic port city of Aden, while fighting intensified in the nearby provinces of Abyan and Taiz.
Addressing a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the oil-rich kingdom would halt airstrikes in Yemen because it is determined to expand relief assistance to the Yemeni people. Saudi Arabia will provide $274 million in new assistance, he said.
Kerry said the “humanitarian pause” wouldn’t start for several days, enough time for diplomatic efforts to convince the Shiite rebels known as the Houthis and their backers to accept the terms of the deal. He said aid organizations also needed time to coordinate the best strategy for getting food, fuel and medicine into and around the country.