Yemeni Houthis Halt Missile Attacks on Saudi Coalition

The Iranian-aligned group, which has been battling the Saudi-backed government for nearly four years, also said it was was ready for a broader ceasefire if the Saudi-led coalition 'wants peace'

 Yemeni army soldiers fire rockets at mountainous positions of al-Qaida militants at the town of Meyfaa in the southern province of Shabwa, Yemen in May 2014
Yemen's Defense Ministry/AP

 Houthi rebels in Yemen said on Monday they were halting drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their Yemeni allies, responding to a demand from the United Nations.

The Iranian-aligned group, which has been battling the Saudi-backed government for nearly four years, also said it was was ready for a broader ceasefire if theSaudi-led coalition "wants peace".

International pressure has mounted on Yemen's warring parties to end the war that has killed more than 10,000 people and pushed the country to the verge of starvation.

The move from the Houthi group came after the coalition ordered a halt in its offensive against Yemen's main port city Hodeidah, which has become the focus of the war.

"We announce our initiative...to halt missile and drone strikes on the countries of aggression," Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the head of the Houthis' Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said in a statement.

The decision was based on discussions with U.N. special envoy Martin Griffiths to show "good faith" and support peace efforts, he said.

Griffiths is trying to salvage peace talks after a round in September collapsed when the Houthis did not show up. He hopes to convene talks before the end of the year in Sweden to agree on a framework for peace under a transitional government.

Yemen's parties have given "firm assurances" they are committed to attending peace talks, Griffiths told the U.N. Security Council on Friday.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Monday reiterated the kingdom's support for U.N. efforts to end the war.

TIRED OF WAR

Yemenis cautiously welcomed the announcement on Monday.

"We pray that this will be the real beginning of peace in Yemen, we are all tired of this war," said Mona Ibrahim, a teacher in the capital Sanaa, which has been under Houthi control since September 2014.

"We just want to live like other humans," Mohammed al-Ahdal, a resident of Hodeidah said.

The Houthi defence ministry said it would respond to any hostilities from the coalition.

Houthi-run Al Masirah TV reported later on Monday that Houthi forces fired a ballistic missile on Saudi-backed forces in the desert of Midi, bordering SaudiArabia.

The Houthis say their missile attacks on Saudi Arabia are in retaliation for air raids on Yemen by the Western-backed coalition, which entered Yemen's war in 2015 to try to restore the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The coalition has carried out thousands of air strikes in the impoverished country that have hit schools, markets and hospitals, killing hundreds of people - though it says it does not target civilians.

The Houthis last July unilaterally halted attacks in the Red Sea to support peace efforts, after Riyadh temporarily suspended oil exports through a strategic Red Sea channel following attacks on crude tankers.

Western allies including the United States have called for a ceasefire ahead of the renewed U.N. efforts.

Western countries have provided arms and intelligence to the Arab states in the alliance, but have shown increasing reservations about the conflict since the murder of U.S.-based Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month.