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Yemen calm as ceasefire takes hold

AFP , Sunday 20 Nov 2016
Yemen
A man walks on the rubble of a house destroyed during recent battles between Houthi fighters and pro-government fighters, on the first day of a 48-hour ceasefire in the southwestern city of Taiz, Yemen November 19, 2016. (REUTERS Photo)
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Violence subsided Sunday in Yemen, a day after the beginning of a 48-hour ceasefire declared by the pro-government Arab coalition battling rebel fighters for almost 20 months.

An AFP correspondent in Sanaa said there had not been any air strikes in the rebel-held capital by warplanes of the Saudi-led coalition since the ceasefire entered into effect at midday (0900 GMT) on Saturday.

The flashpoint southwestern city of Taez was also calm after fierce clashes on Saturday between government forces and the Houthi rebels and their allies of renegade troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a military official said.

The official spoke of "limited exchange of fire" in the city where heavy gunbattles this week killed dozens of people.

Meanwhile, the coalition said its air defences destroyed three ballistic missiles fired at dawn by the Shia rebels at Marib province, east of Sanaa, a military official said.

Coalition spokesman Major General Ahmed Assiri accused the Iran-backed rebels of 180 violations of the truce in 10 hours after it took effect.

He said 150 breaches took place in Yemen, while 30 others were along the northern border with Saudi Arabia, according to Al-Jazeera news network.

The ceasefire comes after US Secretary of State John Kerry this week met rebel representatives in Oman and also urged the government to come on board.

At first the government rejected the peace bid, saying it had not been consulted.

But it has come under huge pressure to back down in the face of an international outcry over the mounting civilian death toll from 20 months of conflict.

More than 7,000 people have been killed in Yemen and nearly 37,000 wounded since the coalition intervention began in March last year, the UN says.

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