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Yemen truce holds after 'minor' violations

According to the UN special envoy for Yemen, the country's ceasefire was taking hold on Monday despite being marred by some reports of sporadic clashes. The envoy called it a "a first step in Yemen's return to peace."

A top general for forces loyal to internationally-recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi seconded the UN, saying "the truce has not collapsed and we hope the rebels end their attacks and respect the ceasefire."

Presidential loyalists have accused the rebels of killing one civilian near the city of Taiz in the southwest, while rebels countered that airstrikes have continued in some locations despite the cessation of hostilities. A spokesman for the coalition supporting Hadi dismissed the violations as "minor."

Hadi and his government were driven from the capital Sanaa last year by Houthi rebels, who follow Shiite Islam and have claimed they were oppressed by the country's Sunni majority. The conflict then erupted into what some have called a proxy war, with Saudi Arabia supporting Hadi with airstrikes, allegations that Shiite Iran was assisting the Houthis, and al-Qaeda taking advantage of the chaos to make some land grabs across Yemen.

The coalition supporting the president with airstrikes, which includes the US, has come under fire for what rights groups allege are heavy civilian casualties in the areas under fire.

The new truce

comes after previous efforts to stop the violence in Yemen, which has killed thousands and turned two million people into refugees, all ended in failure. But the UN had high hopes that this current truce would form the cornerstone of a long-lasting truce deal to be agreed upon in Kuwait on April 18.

es/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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