CAIRO: Local cease-fire monitors arrived at three Yemeni provinces Wednesday to consolidate a shaky truce, residents and officials said, ahead of U.N.-sponsored peace talks scheduled to start in Kuwait next week.
Over 6,200 people have been killed in a year of fighting between forces loyal to President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi and the Houthis, a conflict pitting the Yemeni allies of Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, against those of Iran.
Local officials said teams of 12 monitors were deployed in Marib province east of the capital Sanaa, in southwestern Taiz province and in Al-Hajjah province in the north to try to stop truce violations and allow humanitarian aid to pass through.
The monitors – officers and tribal figures from among the Houthis and followers of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, along with Hadi’s government – would also try to resolve problems and record complaints of violations and send them to a higher committee working under United Nations supervision.
The deployment comes amid fresh reports of violations by both sides of the truce that began at midnight Sunday. Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Salam had said local committees would be deployed in six provinces where fighting had been taking place. Apart from Marib, Al-Hajjah and Taiz, monitors would also be deployed in Shabwa, Bayda and Dhale provinces in southern and central Yemen.
Abdel-Salam, in remarks to Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper daily Wednesday, said the Houthis regard the truce “as a step toward a complete halt to the war” in Yemen.
Officials say they see the truce as the best chance for Yemen to end a year of fighting that has drawn in an Arab alliance to fight what they see as Iran’s expansion into the Arabian Peninsula. Iran supports the Houthis, a political group with a powerful militia that belongs to the Zaidi branch of Shiite Islam.
Previous cease-fire agreements failed to end fighting that began in March last year after the Houthis advanced on Hadi’s headquarters in the southern port city of Aden, forcing the president and his government to flee to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia and the Houthi group have observed a period of calm along their common border since last month, paving the way for the truce to be reached.
U.N.-sponsored peace talks are set to begin on April 18 in Kuwait, bringing together the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government