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Yemen declares truce with northern rebels

Yemeni troops. Photo: January 2010
Yemeni troops have been battling Houthi rebels since 2004

The Yemeni authorities have declared a ceasefire with rebels fighting government forces in the north.

The truce started at midnight local time (2100 GMT) and came after days of negotiations between the government and rebels on how to end the conflict.

The leader of the rebels, known as Houthis, ordered his men to abide by the truce.

The rebels have been battling Yemen's army since 2004. More than 250,000 have been displaced in the region.

The government launched its latest offensive against the rebels last August. Saudi Arabia has also been drawn into the conflict.

Observers say many will question how long the declared truce may last.

The Yemeni government still faces two other conflicts: against southern separatists and militants sympathetic to al-Qaeda.

Rebel statement

News of the ceasefire came in a presidential decree read out on state television.

Map

"We decided to stop military operations in the north-west from midnight," the decree said.

In a statement in response, rebel leader Abdel-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi ordered his fighters to "cease combat on all fronts at the hours announced by the government".

"Once the ceasefire is consolidated, we will proceed to reopening roads and dismantling checkpoints and barricades," the statement added.

The move comes after the rebels reportedly accepted several conditions, including a pledge not to attack Saudi Arabia, put forward by the government to end the hostilities.

Houthi rebels from the minority Shia Zaidi sect based in the north-western Saada district have been battling the government for more than five years.



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