SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition targeting Yemen’s Shiite rebels in airstrikes since March says the coalition is not bound by a new truce deal.
Saudi Brig. Gen Ahmed Asiri’s comments, posted Saturday on the website of the semi-official Saudi newspaper al-Riyadh, cast doubt over the fragile truce that begin at midnight Friday.
Asiri said the coalition is not interested in a unilateral truce, calling it “counterproductive.” He added that the coalition is not bound to it because of a lack of commitment by the Shiite rebels known as Houthis. He called for U.N. observers on the ground to monitor for violations.
The U.N.-declared truce is meant to last through the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Both sides have exchanged blame for violating the truce since it began. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes hit at least six provinces Saturday as fighting on the ground continued in at least four provinces.
Meanwhile Saturday, the World Health Organization said the truce will allow it and other groups to provide aid.
The U.N. declared its highest-level humanitarian emergency in Yemen on July 1. The U.N. humanitarian office says Yemen is on the brink of famine.
Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, relies on imports for the bulk of its food and fuel, but the coalition has imposed a near-complete air and sea blockade during the fighting.
More than 3,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the airstrikes began. The fighting in Yemen pits the Houthis and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against southern separatists, local and tribal militias, Sunni Islamic militants and loyalists of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is now based in Saudi Arabia.