(Reuters) - Houthi rebels in Yemen said on Monday they were halting drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia، the United Arab Emirates and their Yemeni allies، responding to a demand from the United Nations.
The Iranian-aligned group، which has been battling the Saudi-backed government for nearly four years، also said it was ready for a broader ceasefire if the Saudi-led coalition “wants peace”.
The Houthis’ decision to halt missile attacks could be a turning point in peace efforts as it ends a direct threat to Saudi Arabia. It is by far the biggest concession from the movement since it left the southern port city of Aden in 2015.
International pressure has mounted on Yemen’s warring parties to end the war that has killed more than 10،000 people and pushed the country to the verge of starvation.
The move from the Houthi group came after the coalition ordered a halt in its offensive against Yemen’s main port city Hodeidah، which has become the focus of the war.
“We announce our initiative...to halt missile and drone strikes on the countries of aggression،” Mohammed Ali al-Houthi، the head of the Houthis’ Supreme Revolutionary Committee، said in a statement.
The decision was based on discussions with U.N. special envoy Martin Griffiths to show “good faith” and support peace efforts، he said.
Griffiths welcomed the Houthi announcement and called on all parties continue to show restraint “to create a conducive environment for convening the consultations”.
The envoy is trying to salvage peace talks after a round in September collapsed when the Houthis did not show up. He hopes to convene talks before the end of the year in Sweden to agree on a framework for peace under a transitional government.
Yemen’s parties have given “firm assurances” they are committed to attending peace talks، Griffiths told the U.N. Security Council on Friday، with Britain asking the council to back a humanitarian truce in Yemen on Monday.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Monday reiterated the kingdom’s support for U.N. efforts to end the war. The Riyadh-backed government also announced its willingness to take part in the next round of consultations.