Saudi-led coalition pauses Yemen military operations to help peace efforts

Ceasefire talks continue between Saudi Arabia and regional counterparts

Saudi-led coalition spokesman, Colonel Turki al-Malki, speaks during a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 22, 2021. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen said it has stopped military operations to work towards a peaceful settlement.

Over the past few months, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Yemen have been moving towards a ceasefire agreement to bring to an end the six-year conflict.

Saudi Arabia and Iran restarted talks in April with their first high-level meeting since Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2016.

Saudi coalition spokesman Turki Al Malki said on Saudi state television on Thursday that "no military operation has been carried out in the vicinity of Sanaa or any other Yemeni cities in the past period".

Mr Al Malki said the coalition is "preparing the political ground for a peace process in Yemen".

The decision to de-escalate Saudi Arabia's role in the conflict comes after months of a Houthi offensive to seize Marib, the last major sector of government-held territory in the north.

Saudi Arabia has been supporting Yemeni government forces in resisting the attack on Marib, which hosts about one million people displaced by the civil war.

According to the UN, Yemen is already facing the world's worst humanitarian crisis as a result of the conflict, with nearly two thirds of the country's population dependent on aid.

Other Gulf countries have joined the ceasefire efforts.

Omani officials visited Sanaa this month to begin diplomatic talks with the Houthi rebels and Oman's foreign minister, Sayyid Badr Hamad Al Busaidi, visited Riyadh on Wednesday.

Refugees in Marib