Saudi intercepts missile from Yemen, truce maintained, SPA says

Reuters News
|
Posted: May 09, 2016 1:15 PM

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi air defense forces on Monday intercepted a ballistic missile fired from Yemen, but a Saudi-led military coalition will maintain a shaky truce despite this "serious escalation" by the Houthi militia, the Saudi state news agency SPA said.

The Iran-allied Houthis and Yemen's Saudi-backed exile government are trying to reach a peace agreement in talks in Kuwait aimed at ending the year-long war and easing a humanitarian crisis in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country.

"The coalition announces that it will continue to maintain the cessation of hostilities," the coalition said, according to SPA, reiterating that it retained the right to respond as appropriate.

The statement gave no other details about the missile or the target, other than saying it was destroyed without causing any damage. Similar incidents have occurred periodically over the past months.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen a year ago mainly with air strikes in support of Yemeni forces.

It ended a previous ceasefire in January saying that its enemies had fired missiles targeting its border posts and shelled civilian areas where the Houthis were fighting pro-Saudi Yemeni forces

The war has killed more than 6,200 people and displaced some 2.5 million others.

This tentative U.N-backed ceasefire has been in place since last month to give the peace talks in Kuwait a chance at progress. Both sides have regularly accused each other of violations.

On Monday, representatives of the Yemeni government and Houthis met in Kuwait and a U.N. special envoy urged them to make more progress.

"There is no doubt that we are at a true crossroads. We are either moving towards peace or going back to square one," Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the special envoy, said in a statement.

"What I heard from both delegations is promising, but we shouldn't forget that the challenges are enormous and the gap between them is large," he said.

(Reporting by Ali Abdelati in Cairo, Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Alison Williams)