Coalition warplanes target rebel-held military base in Yemen

Sunday 08/05/2016

Peace talks struggle as airstrikes shake truce

ADEN (Yemen) - Warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition on Monday hit a military base captured by Yemeni rebels north of Sanaa, killing at least 11, a military official said.

The raid targeted Al-Amaliqa base which was taken over recently by the Huthi rebels in their northern stronghold of Amran province, the official said.

He said 11 people were killed in the first raid to target the base since the rebels seized it.

There was no immediate confirmation of the air strike from other sources.

The government delegation to UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait walked out earlier this month in protest at the takeover of the base by the Iran-backed rebels.

The rebels have in their turn complained over alleged air raids by the Saudi-led Arab coalition which they said killed several people.

UN special envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on Monday urged Yemen's warring parties to make concessions to save peace talks aimed at ending a devastating 13-month war.

After holding several separate meetings with each delegation, Ould Cheikh Ahmed called on the two sides to "make concessions in order to strike a comprehensive peaceful solution" to end Yemen's deadly conflict.

"The participants in the Kuwait negotiations must reflect the aspirations of the Yemeni people. I am confident that Yemenis want an end to the conflict," he said in a statement.

All direct meetings scheduled for Sunday were called off, but the UN envoy said new talks are scheduled for Monday and appealed for cooperation.

The two delegations also met with Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Sabah and ambassadors of the 18 mostly Western countries backing the talks in a bid to bring the Yemeni foes back to the negotiating table.

Yemen's foreign minister said the talks which began on April 21 made no headway.

"For the sake of peace, we have accepted all proposals submitted to us in order to progress," said Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi, who heads the government delegation.

"But after three weeks, we have nothing in our hands because the other party backed down on its commitments," Mikhlafi wrote on Twitter.

The rebels and their allies have demanded the formation of a consensus transitional government before forging ahead with other issues that require them to surrender arms and withdraw from territories they occupied in 2014.

The talks, which come after two failed attempts in June and December last year in Switzerland, are based on UN Security Council resolution which orders the rebels to withdraw and surrender heavy weaponry they had seized.

There has been mounting international pressure to end the Yemen conflict that the United Nations estimates has killed more than 6,400 people and displaced 2.8 million since March last year.