Sanaa has quiet night as Yemen truce starts, some small breaches

National Yemen

The warring parties in Yemen have agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire which is to take effect shortly before midnight Wednesday, the United Nations special envoy to Yemen announced Monday, Oct. 17, 2016.

The ceasefire, for an initial period of three days, took effect shortly before midnight yesterday under a United Nations plan which aims to allow sorely needed aid to reach suffering civilians.

The rebels said they would respect the ceasefire as long as "the enemy" abides by it, but urged their fighters to be ready to retaliate against "all aggression".

Mogherini added the ceasefire will allow urgent humanitarian assistance to reach large parts of the population that have suffered drastic shortages.

Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said he hopes the temporary truce can lead to "permanent and lasting end to the conflict".

In the runup to the latest truce, a Saudi-led coalition had been attacking rebels in Yemen after UN-sponsored peace talks between the government and rebels ended without a breakthrough in August.

"We ask the parties to take all steps necessary to advance the implementation of this cessation, call on them to sustain it, and strongly encourage its unconditional renewal", U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.

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European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini late Wednesday said the truce should be a first step towards resuming UN-led peace talks, urging warring parties to respect it.

Saudi officials say the air strike in the capital earlier this month should have hit Houthi rebel leaders, but erroneous intelligence meant that the wrong site was targeted.

Both the rebels and pro-government forces have come under increased global pressure to silence their guns.

In another major development, the US Navy for the first time targeted Huthi rebels directly. Oman is also one of the few Arab countries to have a good relationship with Shiite Iran and has mediated between Tehran and Washington on prisoners in the past.Toner expressed gratitude to the government of Oman for securing the Americans' release.

"These forces don't want to establish peace; instead, they want to meddle with this country and distort security and safety of our brothers and neighbors in Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Gulf", the Yemeni presidential advisor said.

"I am more optimistic, actually, because the environment is completely different from the previous" truce, he told AFP.

Both Saudi Arabia and the USA have accused Iran of supplying weapons to the Houthis, but Tehran has denied doing so.