World

Saudi-led coalition delays truce with Yemen rebels

The Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen's internationally recognized government says a planned truce with the country's Shia rebels was postponed for 12 hours.

7-day ceasefire was scheduled for end of Monday, but was pushed back to noon Tuesday

A Houthi militant stands guard on a street at a pro-Houthi tribal gathering held in Yemen's capital of Sanaa on Dec. 10. (Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters)

The Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen's internationally recognized government says a planned truce with the country's Shia rebels has been postponed for 12 hours.

The official Saudi news agency announced the postponement late Monday, saying coalition forces will halt fire at noon local time Tuesday. The ceasefire was originally scheduled to start at midnight Monday.

The statement did not provide further details about the reason for the postponement. Rebel leaders could not immediately be reached for comment.

The warring sides had agreed to a week-long ceasefire to coincide with peace talks in Switzerland scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

Yemen's fighting pits the internationally recognized government backed by a Saudi-led, U.S.-supported coalition against the rebels, known as Houthis, who are allied with a former president and backed by Iran. Yemen's local al-Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates have been exploiting the chaos to grab territory and exercise influence in the east and south of the country.

Previous truces and UN-brokered talks to end the violence have failed, as the government insisted the Houthis honor a UN resolution that obliges them to give up arms seized from the state and withdraw from territory they had captured over the past year, including the capital, Sanaa. The Houthis, however, have demanded negotiations over the country's political future.

According to the UN, the war has killed at least 5,878 people so far since the fighting escalated after the Saudi-led coalition began launching airstrikes against rebel positions in March.

Earlier in the day, ground fighting and coalition airstrikes continued across the country, killing at least 34 people, including 10 civilians, according to security and medical officials. The officials, who have remained neutral in Yemen's civil war, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Among the dead were two senior coalition officials from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Yemen's southwestern Taiz province. The official Saudi and Emirati news agencies did not specify how they were killed. The two were identified as Saudi Col. Abdullah Mohammed al-Sahyan and Emirati officer Sultan Mohammed Ali al-Ketb.

The Houthis announced in a statement that the two coalition officials were killed when the rebels fired a long-range missile at a secret headquarters of the pro-government military leadership close to the strategic strait of Bab al-Mandab.

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