The Houthi rebel group and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the group’s main ally, have agreed in principle to a 72-hour ceasefire proposed by the UN’s special envoy to Yemen, local sources said Friday.
According to sources close to Houthi negotiators, who spoke anonymously due to restrictions on speaking to media, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed proposed the ceasefire at a meeting held this week in Omani capital Muscat.
An earlier ceasefire applied in April collapsed after Kuwait-hosted peace talks fell through in August.
Delegations representing the Houthis and Saleh, however, conditioned the new ceasefire on a halt to all military activities in Yemen by a Saudi-led, anti-Houthi Arab coalition.
Yemen has remained in a state of civil war since late 2014, when the Houthis overran capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and his Saudi-backed government to temporarily flee to Riyadh.
In March of last year, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive military campaign in Yemen aimed at reversing Houthi gains and restoring Hadi’s embattled government.
Backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, pro-Hadi forces have since managed to reclaim large swathes of the country’s south -- including Aden -- but have failed to retake Sanaa and other strategic areas.
UN-brokered peace talks held earlier this year in Kuwait failed to achieve any tangible breakthroughs.
In a related development this week, two Iranian fishing ships entered Yemeni territorial waters, Fahd Kafain, Yemen’s minister of fisheries, alleged.
"Two Iranian ships entered Yemeni waters -- for the second time in recent months -- in a provocative manner," Kafain said on his personal Facebook page.
"The two vessels came within less than five miles of the islands of Abd al-Kuri and Sahma southwest of the Socotra Archipelago in the Indian Ocean," he added, without giving a specific date for the alleged incident.
The minister went on to describe the alleged maritime intrusion as "a blatant violation of Yemeni territorial waters, a clear violation of international law and an act of illegal fishing".
Anadolu Agency was unable to obtain immediate comment from the Iranian authorities regarding the minister’s assertions.
By Zakaria al-Kamaali and Mubarak Mohamed
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