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Saudi-led Coalition Declares 5-day Cease-fire to Allow Aid


A Houthi militant stands guard as Houthi followers demonstrate against Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen's capital Sana'a, July 24, 2015.

The Saudi-led coalition said it would begin a five-day humanitarian cease-fire in Yemen, which was to take effect one minute before midnight Sunday.

The pause in military operations came at the request of exiled President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, a statement by the Saudi state media said Saturday.

Hadi, who fled to Riyadh earlier this year, sent a letter to Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Friday, asking for the pause to allow "delivery and distribution of the maximum amount of humanitarian and medical aid" to the war-torn country.

However, the coalition also reserved the right to respond to "military activity or movement" by the Shi'ite Houthi rebels or their allies during the cease-fire, the statement said.

News of the cease-fire came after an airstrike on the central Yemeni city of Taiz earlier Saturday killed at least 80 civilians and wounded 150.

The United Nations said the four-month conflict has killed more than 3,600 people, around half of them civilians.

Civilian suffering

On Friday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said that civilian suffering in Yemen has reached "unprecedented levels."

The ICRC also said intensifying violence in the south provinces of Taiz and Aden was hamstringing emergency medical aid.

The coalition began bombing Houthi militia and army forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh March 26.

A U.N.-brokered truce announced earlier this month that was expected to last until the end of the holy month of Ramadan never truly took hold.

Aden and the other southern provinces have been largely inaccessible to U.N. food aid, and about 13 million people — more than half the population — are thought to be in dire need of food.

A statement by the U.N. special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said he was on his way to Riyadh for further consultations with president Hadi and other gulf officials.

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