Sporadic incidents of aggression have been reported from Yemen despite a ceasefire between rebels and Saudi Arabia's forces taking effect. The five-day halt in violence is aimed at bringing aid to the warzone.
Residents in Yemen's southern and eastern areas reported fighting on Wednesday, despite Houthi rebels and Saudi Arabia's coalition forces announcing a ceasefire at midnight. A Saudi General said on Al Arabiya television that Houthi rebels were not giving any indication of halting the violence.
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition to wipe out Shiite Houthi rebels from Yemen had last bombarded the port of Aden on Tuesday. The alliance flew some reconnaissance planes on Wednesday, which prompted some firing from the rebels, but that lasted only briefly, eye witnesses told AFP.
There were also some reports of skirmishes in the country's southern provinces of Daleh and Shabwa and from Marib in the east. However, all fighting had ceased by Wednesday morning, residents reported. The UN Security Council welcomed the pause, but called for warring parties to discuss peace.
Riyadh had warned rebels of punishing any breach in the ceasefire and that the truce was conditional on the rebels reciprocating and not exploiting it for military advantage.
Iran's aid ship provokes Riyadh
The Kingdom was also worried about a Yemen-bound aid ship sent by Tehran, which allegedly backs the Houthi rebels. Riyadh had asked Iran to send aid through the United Nations rather than directly with its own ships. Saudi Arabia's close ally, the United States, was monitoring the situation. But US Army's Steve Warren warned his country would not help if Iran was "planning some sort of stunt."
Tehran warned in return that blocking its ship could cause it to retaliate. Iran's deputy chief of staff General Masoud Jazayeri said, "Both Saudi Arabia and his novice rulers, as well as the Americans and others, should be mindful that if they cause trouble for the Islamic Republic with regard to sending humanitarian aid to regional countries, it will spark a fire, the putting out of which would definitely be out of their hands."
The Yemen conflict has resulted in massive humanitarian suffering. More than 1,200 have been killed in the Yemen conflict, among them many civilians. More than 4,000 are injured, tens of thousands have fled their homes to escape violence and the country's infrastructure is "on the brink of collapse," the United Nations has said.
Saudi Arabia began airstrikes on the country on March 26 to wipe out Houthi rebels who had seized most of northern Yemen and the capital, Sanaa in September last year. In early 2015, the Houthis, allegedly linked to Yemen's former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, drove President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi from the country and began fighting to gain control over the port of Aden.
Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, authorities beheaded three Yemeni prisoners.
mg/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)