UN condemns attacks by Yemeni rebels and Saudi-led coalition | Yemen

UN chief António Guterres on Saturday condemned an exchange of attacks between Yemen’s Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition, calling for “restraint” by all sides in the seven-year conflict .

“The Secretary-General strongly condemns the recent escalation of the conflict in Yemen,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Saturday.

The wave of rebel assaults included an attack on an oil factory that sparked a massive fire near the Jeddah Formula One circuit during televised practice sessions on Friday.

In response, the Saudi-led coalition launched airstrikes on the capital Sana’a and the port city of Hodeida – a key entry point for humanitarian aid – early Saturday. Strikes on Sanaa reportedly killed eight civilians, according to the UN statement.

The firefight comes ahead of the seventh anniversary of a military intervention by a Saudi-led coalition in support of the Yemeni government against the Iran-backed Houthis after they seized Sanaa in 2014 .

Earlier on Saturday, the Houthi rebels announced a three-day truce with the Saudi-led coalition and dangled the prospect of a “permanent” ceasefire.

Houthi political leader Mahdi al-Mashat appeared on television to announce the “suspension of missile and drone strikes and all military actions for a period of three days”.

“And we are ready to turn this declaration into a final and permanent commitment in the event that Saudi Arabia commits to ending the siege and stopping its raids on Yemen once and for all,” he said. .

There was no immediate response from Saudi Arabia.

Dujarric said the UN chief reiterated “his calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint” and to “urgently reach a negotiated settlement to end the conflict”.

The statement also condemned the coalition strikes, which destroyed explosive-laden boats in Yemen, for damaging a UN staff residential compound in Sanaa.

Thousands of people marched in the Yemeni capital on Saturday to denounce the conflict, which has killed hundreds of thousands directly or indirectly, according to the UN, and left millions on the brink of starvation.

Mashat said the Huthis were ready to “release all coalition prisoners, including (President Abdrabbuh Mansur’s) brother Hadi, prisoners from the militia and other nationalities in exchange for the full release of all our prisoners. “.

“The Saudi regime must prove its seriousness…by responding to a ceasefire, lifting the siege and expelling foreign forces from our country. And then peace will come and it will be time to talk about political solutions in a serene atmosphere far from any military or humanitarian pressure.

Israel, which does not have diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, expressed “sorrow” over the Houthi attack.

“This attack is further proof that Iran’s regional aggression knows no bounds,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wrote on Twitter in a rare public message to the kingdom.

French President Emmanuel Macron also condemned the rebel attack and expressed “solidarity” with Saudi Arabia.

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