Saudi-led coalition forces have agreed a five-day humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen to take effect from Sunday evening, at the request of the exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
A Saudi-led Arab coalition has been bombing the Houthi rebels and army forces loyal to the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, since the end of March, aiming to push them back from southern and central areas and restore the country’s exiled government.
News of the ceasefire came after dozens of people were said to have been killed, and many more injured, in an airstrike on the city of Taiz earlier on Saturday, according to the Houthi-controlled Saba news agency.
A week-long UN-brokered truce in fighting failed earlier this month, after Saudi Arabia said it had not been asked by President Hadi, in whose name it is acting, to stop its raids.
A letter by Mr Hadi, who fled to Riyadh, to the King of Saudi Arabia on Friday asked for the ceasefire to allow for humanitarian supplies to be delivered to the war-torn country, the state news agency SPA said.
The latest ceasefire announcement states that the coalition forces will stop all military activities, but reserve the right to respond to violations by the Shia Houthis – the proxies of Iran, according to Saudi Arabia – and pro-Saleh forces.
The humanitarian pause will take effect from 11.59pm local time and last for five days, the statement said, to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
A statement by the UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said he was on his way to Riyadh for further consultations with Mr Hadi and other Gulf officials.
Saba reported that the strike on Taiz had killed 55 people, but this was expected to rise. Local medical sources later said that 80 people were killed with at least 150 people injured.
The frontlines of Yemen’s war shifted in favour of the Sunni coalition of Gulf states which support the exiled President earlier this month when, in coordination with forces loyal to Mr Hadi, they managed to drive the Houthis out of the southern port city of Aden.