The Riyadh-led military coalition declared a two-week ceasefire in Yemen starting Thursday in a bid to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus, a senior Saudi official said.
“We are announcing a ceasefire starting (Thursday) for two weeks,” the official said.“We are expecting the Huthis (Yemeni rebels) will accept. We are preparing the ground to fight COVID-19” in Yemen.
The unilateral ceasefire will begin at 0900 GMT on Thursday, he added.
There was no immediate reaction by the Iran-aligned rebels.
The coalition was committed to a two-week ceasefire but still reserved the right to defend itself if it came under attack, the Saudi official said.
The ceasefire may be extended if the Huthis respond “positively” to the gesture, he added.
The Saudi-led military coalition has been active in Yemen’s conflict in support of an internationally recognised government since 2015.Yemen’s broken healthcare system has so far recorded no cases of the COVID-19 illness, but aid groups have warned that when it does hit, the impact will be catastrophic.
The country is already gripped by what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Fighting recently escalated again between the Huthis and Riyadh-backed Yemeni troops around the strategic northern districts of Al-Jouf and Marib, ending a months-long lull.
Saudi air defences intercepted Yemeni rebel missiles over Riyadh and the border city of Jizan late last month, leaving two civilians wounded in the curfew-locked capital, state media reported.