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Yemeni president turns down UN peace deal

Yemeni President Hadi has rejected a UN-proposed peace deal aimed at ending the country's devastating war, saying it "rewards" rebels. A Saudi-led airstrike also killed several civilians including a family of 11.

Yemeni President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi refused to accept a peace proposal submitted on Saturday by the United Nations envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

"The Yemeni people have condemned these ideas and the so-called road map out of the belief that the deal is a gateway to more suffering and war," a statement by the presidency quoted Hadi as saying.

The contents of the proposed peace deal, which had been presented to rebels in Yemen on Tuesday, have not yet been made public.

However, according to informed sources, the deal would give Shiite rebels a share in the future government. It would also reduce some of the president's powers in exchange for a rebel withdrawal from major cities.

Hadi said although previous peace proposals were "logical to a certain extent," the ideas in the current proposal "carry the seeds of war," he added. "It rewards the coup leaders and punishes the Yemeni people at the same time."

Shiite rebels seized the Yemeni capital of Sanaa in 2014 and eventually forced Hadi to flee with members of his government to the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Hadi's loyalists fighting the rebels are backed by a Saudi-led coalition which has been carrying out airstrikes since March 2015.

A key coalition member, the United Arab Emirates welcomed the UN peace proposal on Thursday. Both the rebels and Saudi Arabia have yet to respond to the deal.

Coalition airstrikes kill civilians

Also on Saturday, at least 15 civilians were killed when a Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit houses in the southwestern town of Taiz, reported local officials and residents. A family of 11 people was reportedly among those killed.

There were also reports that dozens of prisoners and security personnel were killed in the Red Sea port of Hodeida on Saturday after Saudi-led airstrikes hit two prisons. 

In recent months, the southwestern city of Taiz - Yemen's third-largest city and cultural center- has become a major battlefront in the fight between Saudi-backed government forces and Iran-allied rebels known as Houthis.

Saturday's attack comes just two days after the Saudi-led coalition said they destroyed a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis towards Mecca, Islam's holiest city. The Houthis denied the claims.

An October 8 coalition strike killed over 140 people attending a funeral ceremony for the father of a rebel leader in Sanaa. The attack was condemned even by close Western allies.

Nearly 7,000 people have been killed in Yemen's conflict since March 2015, and over 35,000 have been wounded. The war has displaced 3 million Yemenis and left millions in need of food aid.

rs/sms     (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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