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Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, Saudi-led Coalition Announces Yemen Ceasefire

The Saudi-led coalition battling Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen on Thursday began observing a cease-fire, although it was not immediately clear if the rebels would abide by the truce. Nevertheless, a Saudi military official said that the coalition would stop operations for two weeks in response to international calls to halt all conflicts amid the coronavirus pandemic. The official stressed that the cease-fire could be extended in order to pave the way for negotiations on “proposals, steps and mechanisms… [to achieve] a comprehensive political solution in Yemen.” The coalition of Sunni Muslim countries intervened militarily in the conflict in March 2015 after the Shi’ite Houthis, months earlier, had seized the capital Sanaa and forced into exile the internationally recognized government. The fighting has since killed tens of thousands of people and pushed millions to the brink of starvation. The violence has also decimated Yemen’s health system, raising fears that a coronavirus outbreak in the impoverished nation could have catastrophic consequences.