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Yemen Cease-fire to Begin Late Tuesday

by VOA News May 12, 2015

Saudi-led airstrikes pounded the rebel-held Yemeni capital Sana'a Tuesday as the new U.N. envoy to Yemen arrived hours before a five-day truce was set to begin between Gulf Arab nations and the Iran-allied Houthi militia.

The truce will allow badly needed humanitarian aid to reach civilians inside the conflict-battered country.

Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed seeks to bring Yemen's feuding armed groups toward a political accord that could end more than six weeks of ground battles and Saudi-led airstrikes.

Also Tuesday, Islamic militant websites reported four leading members of Yemen's al-Qaida branch were killed in a suspected U.S. drone strike Monday in the southern port of Mukalla on the Arabian Sea.

Rockets believed to have been fired by U.S. drones hit al-Qaida militants based in the city's presidential residence Monday, security officials told The Associated Press.

The militant Aamaq outlet, affiliated with the Islamic State group – an al-Qaida rival – said the four include Maamoun Hatem, reportedly an Islamic State sympathizer. The three other militants were identified as Abu Anwar al-Kutheiri, Mohammed Saleh al-Gharabi and Mabkhout Waqash al-Sayeri.

Ahead of the cease-fire deadline, U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos pleaded with all parties to halt the violence and let aid workers deliver food, provide medical care, ensure access to clean water and allow people to escape to safer areas.

'Given the deteriorating humanitarian situation on the ground in Yemen with hundreds of thousands of vulnerable civilians trapped in the middle of fighting and unable to access lifesaving aid it is essential that this pause materialize,' Amos said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Saudi-led airstrikes on a rocket base in Sana'a Monday killed 90 people and wounded 300, a local official was quoted as telling the state news agency Saba Tuesday.

If confirmed, the death toll would be among the highest in a single incident over more than six weeks of bombings, which have killed more than 1,400 people, according to the U.N.

The conflict involves Houthi rebels who took control of the capital in September then pushed to the south in an offensive earlier this year that forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis and other allies launched their airstrikes against the Houthis in late March at the request of Hadi.

Some material for this report provided by Reuters and AP.



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