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Yemen update 12/20\2015.. much-violated ceasefire will be extended for seven days

Sunday, December 20, 2015 18:16
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Yemen’s warring sides end talks in Switzerland

Yemen ceasefire to be extended by week: govt negotiator

Bern (Switzerland) (AFP) – Yemen’s much-violated ceasefire will be extended for seven days after it officially expires Monday, the head of the government negotiation team said Sunday at UN-brokered talks in Switzerland.

“The truce will be extended for seven more days and will then be automatically extended if it is respected by the other party,” Foreign Minister Abdel Malak al-Mekhlafi told reporters in Bern, referring to the Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

The decision, at the request of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, was communicated to the United Nations, Mekhlafi said, noting that its automatic renewal had been part of the rebels’ commitment to respect Security Council Resolution 2216.

The resolution, adopted in April, calls on the rebels and their allies, army units who still back former president Ali Abdallah Saleh, to withdraw from territory captured last year including the capital Sanaa, and to lay down their weapons.

Mekhlafi, who led the government delegation to six days of peace talks in Bern that wrapped up with no major breakthrough on Sunday, also called for the release of five prisoners held by the Huthis including Defence Minister Major-General Mahmoud al-Subaihi.

Yemen Current Situation | rebels hit on Saudi coalition with missile “Tochka U”

UN envoy ‘optimistic’ about Yemen truce despite violations

The UN envoy for Yemen says he is still “optimistic” that a fully-respected ceasefire will come into force in Yemen, despite several violations of a seven-day truce already in effect in the war-torn country.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said at a press conference on Sunday after ending the peace talks that “incredible progress” has been made at the talks among Yemen’s warring sides in Switzerland, adding that all sides agreed to hold the next round of talks on January 14.

The negotiations began in the Swiss village of Magglingen on December 15 between a delegation representing the Houthi Ansarullah movement and representatives from Yemen’s fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to end the war.

The UN envoy also noted that the UN experts knew from the beginning that there would be violations of ceasefire, saying, “But we have to remember that it is a war that went back for more than nine months.

Ceasefire is difficult but this is our request.”

“This is why we have de-escalation and contact group composed of military people from both sides, sitting together in the same room and discussing, looking at the map and contacting their operation groups to stop. This is an incredible progress. These people were in the front battling against each other, now they are sitting in one room,” Ould Cheikh Ahmed said.

“Though we are still far from a fully respected ceasefire but I am optimistic we will achieve a ceasefire in coming days,” he added.

The UN envoy stressed that the conflicting parties who attended the talks agreed that the main objective is to “end this war and have permanent ceasefire.”

Ould Cheikh Ahmed further said that some 102 trucks carrying humanitarian aid arrived in conflict-stricken Tai’zz province and that both sides agreed on the need to “lift all forms of blockade and allow safe, rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian supplies” to all affected areas.

Saudi’s violation of UN ceasefire threatens Yemeni peace talks

Clashes leave scores dead in northern Yemen
UN voices alarm at ceasefire violations as fighting between Houthis and government troops claims lives on both sides.

At least 75 people have been killed in fighting between troops and Houthi fighters in northern Yemen, military and tribal sources say, amid concern over the ceasefire violations.

The casualties included 28 troops, according to military sources, while tribal officials added that Houthi fighters lost 40 men in heavy clashes on Saturday near the northwestern town of Haradh, which was overrun on Thursday by government forces.

Around 50 Houthi fighters and 40 loyalists were wounded in the clashes, sources said.

“We’re now at a government complex in Hazm,” a military official said. “Some other forces have gone to areas in the northwest.

“We’ll continue to progress until we’ve reached Saada, Amran and Sanaa. We’ll liberate all Yemeni cities from the Persians and those who want to attack our land, our religion and our dignity.”

Clashes intensified early on Saturday as government forces attempted to advance towards the Red Sea port of Midi and the opposition fighters brought in reinforcements, tribal sources said.

Yemeni forces and allied tribes captured Hazm, the capital of the northern Jawf province, on Friday – the second rebel-held town to fall in 24 hours.

Troops loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and allied tribesmen seized Hazm after making significant gains in Marib, which lies south of Jawf.


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