Yemen peace talks delayed: Report
Monday peace talks in Kuwait aimed at ending over a year of Saudi war in Yemen have been delayed, Reuters says citing officials from the warring sides.
The news agency quoted a senior official in ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party as saying that “there’s no point in going to Kuwait if there’s no respect for the ceasefire.”
Delegations representing Yemen’s Houthis and Saleh’s General People’s Congress party, the main groups fighting Saudi-backed forces, have yet to depart the capital Sana’a and cited heavy combat and airstrikes.
Fighting and airstrikes persist on several battlefronts throughout the country, especially in the contested southwestern city of Ta’izz and the Nehm area east of the capital.
Local residents and witnesses said Saudi warplanes bombarded al-Ghayl district in the northern Yemeni province of Jawf early on Monday.
Saudi Arabia’s remotely-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles carried out a number of reconnaissance missions over the skies of the capital Sana’a, the al-Masirah television reported.
Saudi-backed militiamen meanwhile fired a barrage of rockets and artillery rounds at the city of Sirwah, about 120 km (75 miles) east of the capital, it said.
Reuters quoted two officials from the Saudi-backed group as saying that the opposing delegations would likely arrive on Tuesday.
Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi, the foreign minister of ex-president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s administration, said he didn’t expect “a full agreement at this stage but rather a step toward that end.”
The ceasefire has been violated numerous times with fighting that has been unabated in Nahm, northeast of Sana’a, killing nine Saudi-backed militants on Sunday.
The northern capital remains in the hands of the Houthis and Saudi Arabia continues carrying out attacks from the air and ground to take it.
The kingdom, however, is under growing pressure as its protracted war has ground into a no-win situation.
In February, Saudi military spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri acknowledged that Riyadh was stuck in a “static war” against its southern neighbor.
Saudi Arabia is also coming under an unprecedented criticism from around the world over rising civilian casualties and destruction in Yemen.
The United Nations has raised alarm over the growing influence of al-Qaeda in Yemen since Saudi Arabia launched the war in March 2015.
More than 9,400 people have been killed and at least 16,000 others injured since the onset of the aggression.
The Saudi strikes have also taken a heavy toll on the country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.