Yemen's dominant Houthi rebel group and its allies in the country's splintered armed forces said Sunday they would accept a five-day humanitarian cease-fire to allow aid to reach civilians after more than a month of daily airstrikes from a Saudi-led military coalition.
The cease-fire, scheduled to begin Tuesday, would help ease the suffering of civilians in the Arab world's poorest country who increasingly lack food, fuel and medicine since the bombing campaign began March 26.
Backed by the United States, a Saudi-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against the Houthis and army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh with the aim of restoring the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The Houthis say their campaign is aimed at defeating Al-Qaeda fighters based in Yemen, and accuse Hadi's forces of supporting the group.
However, all sides in a conflict that's seen the exile of Saudi- and Western-backed Hadi have warned they'll retaliate if the cease-fire is broken.
A foreign affairs spokesman for the Houthis wrote on social media that the rebels would accept the truce if it was “real and serious.” On Sunday, state news agency SABA, which is under the control of the Houthis, quoted Col. Sharaf Ghalib Luqman as saying the group agreed with the cease-fire, warning against any violation of the truce.
On Saturday, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Ali Asiri, the Saudi-led coalition's spokesman, also warned that the cease-fire will be cancelled if the Houthis violate it.
Meanwhile, Saudi-led strikes have continued in Yemen, with a residence of former President Saleh in the capital, Sanaa, reportedly hit. Social media accounts later posted pictures of what appeared to be Saleh speaking in front of his ruined home after the strike. Saleh and his forces back the Houthis, who are also backed by Iran.
Saleh appeared unscathed and seemed to taunt Saudi Arabia in remarks televised by his TV channel, YemenToday. “It isn't just me who is being targeted but every citizen .... This aggression is cowardly. Go ahead and come by land, we'll make a welcome for you," Saleh said from behind a pair of sunglasses.
Arab air strikes also hit weapons caches at a military base and a presidential palace in the southern city of Aden, the epicenter of fighting for more than six weeks, and southern fighters questioned the proposed pause.
The raging conflict in Yemen has killed more than 1,400 people — many of them civilians — since March 19, according to the United Nations.
International concern about the humanitarian situation has grown as the strikes sent locals fleeing from their homes and destroyed infrastructure, leading to shortages of food, medicine and fuel.
Iranian news agency Tasnim said an aid ship would set sail for the Houthi-controlled Red Sea port of Hodaida on Sunday, in a move that will likely be blocked by the Saudi-led coalition.
Al Jazeera and wire services