Yemeni forces honoring cease-fire

Sept. 8, 2009 at 3:58 PM
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SANAA, Yemen, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Yemeni security forces said they were honoring calls by humanitarian groups for a cease-fire despite a refusal by al-Houthi rebels in the north of the country.

The official Saba news agency reports the government "practically suspended" all military operations Friday in response to urgent pleas by the United Nations and humanitarian relief groups, who said the situation in north Yemen was growing dire.

The report said national forces were still honoring their commitments, though fighters with the Shiite al-Houthi rebel group were not following suit.

Rebel sources to the news agency said the group cut off access roads by planting roadside bombs in order to prevent humanitarian relief from reaching those displaced by the conflict.

Government forces launched a major offensive against al-Houthi rebels in north Yemen in early August. Aid groups and the United Nations said the conflict has created a humanitarian emergency as thousands of families flee the fighting.

Meanwhile, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi met with Stephen Seche, the U.S. envoy to Sanaa, to discuss counter-terrorism and humanitarian assistance for the Yemeni government.

As part of that meeting, the U.S. Agency for International Development pledged $2.4 million in food assistance for the displaced persons in the northern province of Saada, where the fighting is at its worst.

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