Yemen president says door to peace still open

Speaking on first anniversary of Saudi-led coalition's intervention, Hadi blasts Houthi rebels for subjecting people to killings, destruction and sieges.

Yemeni president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi on Saturday accused the country’s Houthi rebels of subjecting his people to “scourges of killings, destruction and siege”.

He was speaking on the first anniversary of Operation Decisive Storm, which was launched by a Saudi-led military coalition of mostly Arab states to restore Mr Hadi’s internationally recognised government to power.

The UAE has played a key role in the operation, and in the coalition’s Operation Restoring Hope that succeeded it less than a month later.

“We are still for peace and we engaged positively with efforts being made by the UN special envoy for Yemen to realise peace and restore legitimacy of the state in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 2216,” Mr Hadi said, according to Wam, the UAE’s state news agency.

“Our hand will always remain extended for a just peace that lays the foundation of a stable, secure future for our people and nation.”

The Yemeni government is fighting Iran-backed Shiite rebels who are allied to renegade soldiers loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Despite advances made over the past year by pro-government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition, the Houthis and their allies still control large swathes of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.

On Wednesday, the UN’s special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, announced that the country’s warring parties had agreed to a cessation of hostilities starting at midnight on April 10, along with peace talks in Kuwait beginning April 18.

Mr Hadi’s comments came as coalition strikes targeted fighters from Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch in three southern provinces: Aden, Abyan and Lahj.

"This morning, airstrikes targeted a stronghold of the terrorist group on the outskirts of Aden province, in Al Fyoush area," a source in Aden's interior ministry told The National, without providing details of casualties.

“Raids also struck a crowd of terrorists in Abyan province’s Ja’ar district, close to a factory.”

The source said strikes were also carried out on Al Qaeda targets in Lahj province’s central Al Hawta area, while further raids struck targets in the province’s Mashtal Sofyan area.

* With additional reporting by Mohammed Al Qalisi in Aden