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Yemeni cities bombed as ceasefire grows closer

Humanitarian groups are prepared for the ceasefire, which begins late Tuesday.

By Ed Adamczyk
Yemeni cities bombed as ceasefire grows closer
Militants fighting Houthi rebels take their positions in Taiz, Yemen, March, 30, 2015. Photo by Anees Mahyoub/UPI | License Photo

SANAA, Yemen, May 12 (UPI) -- Rebel Houthi positions in Sanaa and Aden, Yemen's two largest cities, were pounded Tuesday by airstrikes as a ceasefire was about to begin.

Fighting intensified between the Yemeni military, aided by air support from a 10-nation coalition of Arab countries, and the Iran-supported Houthis, who overtook the government in late 2014. Both sides agreed to a five-day humanitarian ceasefire, scheduled to behind late Tuesday.

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The airstrikes were a continuation of aerial bombing Monday, in which the Houthis claimed they downed a fighter plane from Morocco, a coalition member. A Saudi television station said Monday a Saudi "strike force" of tanks and artillery was on its way to the Yemeni border, although no crossing of the border by Saudi ground forces has been observed.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said it is prepared to distribute blankets to 60,000 people in the port city of Hodeida, as well as desperately needed food, water and medicine. The U.N. envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, is in the capital of Sanaa to help coordinate a relief effort, the Houthi-operated SABA news agency reported.

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Over 300,000 people have been displaced by the conflict.

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