Saudi Arabia says 5-day cease-fire in Yemen to start Tuesday

Saudi Arabia says a unilateral cease-fire in Yemen will start May 12 and urges rebels to stop fighting

Saudi Arabia said Friday that a unilateral cease-fire in Yemen would start on May 12 and urged Shiite Muslim rebels and their allies to stop fighting.

It was unclear if the Iran-backed insurgents known as Houthis were prepared to lay down their arms.

At a news conference with Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said the halt in fighting would start on Tuesday at 11 p.m. The so-called humanitarian pause is renewable, depending on compliance by the rebels who have driven Yemen's internationally recognized government out of the country.

The announcement in Paris came hours after the Saudi-led coalition carrying out airstrikes in Yemen declared a rebel stronghold along the kingdom's southern border a “military target” and gave residents an ultimatum to leave the region by nightfall. The ultimatum was reported by state TV.

The escalation in the northern Yemeni province of Saada came in response to recent cross-border attacks by the Houthis on Saudi cities near the frontier, to which the coalition has vowed a “harsh response.”

Yemeni officials said that more than 50 airstrikes hit Saada overnight and in the early morning. The official Saudi Press Agency reported that warplanes destroyed a land-mine factory, a telecommunications complex and command centers in Saada.

Jubeir and Kerry said Thursday that they were working on a cease-fire but still needed time to flesh out the details.

On Friday in Paris, where they gathered with other Arab foreign ministers, Kerry said the cease-fire was conditioned on no bombing, no shooting, no repositioning of troops and no movement of heavy weapons.

“A humanitarian catastrophe is building,” Kerry warned, saying civilians were running out of food, fuel and medicine, and that aid groups needed to be allowed to get supplies into and around the country.

He said anyone who cared about Yemen would act to help put the cease-fire in place.

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