The Saudi-led coalition began a unilateral ceasefire in Yemen’s long war on Thursday, saying it hoped the initiative to prevent coronavirus would lead to a wider political solution.

The Iran-backed Houthi rebels have not formally responded to the the coalition’s declaration of a two-week pause in the five-year conflict. However Yasser Al-Houri, secretary of the Houthis’ political council, poured cold water on the idea, saying that the Saudis “are dishonest and violate every truce they announce”.

“The announcement of this truce is to evade the true national vision that offers real solutions,” he said, referring to a roadmap for peace that the rebels unveiled on Wednesday.

If the ceasefire does hold, it would be the first breakthrough since the warring parties agreed to a UN-brokered truce in Hodeida during talks in Sweden in late 2018. The UAE, a key ally in the coalition which drew down its troops last year, applauded the Saudi move as “wise and responsible”.

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