SANAA, Oct 20 – Parties to Yemen’s war adhered for the most part to a 72-hour truce that began just before midnight on Wednesday and the capital Sanaa passed its first night in three months without air strikes, residents and officials said.
The truce was generally holding across the Arabian Peninsula state, local officials and residents told Reuters.
But Yemen’s exiled, Saudi-backed government said on Thursday that the Iranian-allied Houthi militia that controls the capital had shelled the strategic city of Taiz.
“Taiz suffered heavy shelling… and the siege of it by the Houthis has continued,” Yemeni General Samir Haj was quoted as saying by the state news agency Saba.
A Houthi-run news agency said its fighters had repelled attacks by government forces in the northwestern al-Jawf province in the early hours of the truce. A Saudi-led coalition spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
The United Nations announced the ceasefire earlier in the week, raising hopes for an end to a war in the Arab world’s poorest country that has killed thousands of civilians and left many people starving.
The truce has the possibility for extension if it holds, opening the way for aid supplies to isolated regions where hunger and diseases including cholera have spread.
Coalition aircraft had bombed Sanaa every night since Aug. 7, residents said, starting after peace talks with the Houthis and forces loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh broke down.
But on Wednesday night Sanaa fell quiet, residents said.
“We slept without explosions,” said Bassam, a worker at a grocery store in Sanaa. “We hope this war ends soon, because people are tired. We want to live, not to die.”
Several previous ceasefires have failed to pave the way for an end to the conflict, although they have significantly slowed fighting in a war that has killed at least 10,000 people.
Relief agencies hope to use the truce to reach parts of Yemen that have been cut off by months of fighting and are in dire need of humanitarian aid.