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Source: Yemen Times

Fighting between Houthi rebels and the 310th Armored Brigade backed by Sunni tribesmen in Amran subsided at the weekend. However subsequent clashes have led to growing concerns that the latest ceasefire agreement proposed by the Defense Ministry on Monday June 23 could go the way of a previous ceasefire which was shattered on June 14.

The latest halt in fighting took place Saturday, two days before Monday’s formal ceasefire agreement. This came after a meeting between Defense Minister Mohamed Nasser Ahmed and the Houthis’ military leader known as Abu Ali Al-Hakim in the Sumain area of Eyal Suraih district in Amran. The two sides negotiated a deal to implement the ceasefire agreement, a local source in Amran told the Yemen Times on condition of anonymity for reasons of security.

Defense Ministry teams were set up last Tuesday in anticipation of implementing a ceasefire agreement, according to the text of the agreement published by the Defense Ministry.

However, as of Sunday afternoon neither of the warring parties had withdrawn from their positions in Amran or other fighting fronts in the Hamdan and Bani Mater districts of Sana’a governorate.

The Defense Ministry said that on Sunday it would “remove all new posts set up by both parties and replace them with military police units,” according Ali Al-Ghashmi, deputy governor of Sana’a.

The Houthis’ website, ansaruallah.com, said on Friday that Houthi supporters in Sa’ada city, as well as Razih and Ghamir, two districts in Sa’ada governorate where the group enjoys power independent of the governorate, marched in support of the “presidential ceasefire agreement in Amran.”

However on Monday morning there was shelling between Houthi and military forces around the Al-Mehshash Mountain. Gunfire was also exchanged at the Al-Dhabr checkpoint on the outskirts of Amran city on the road to Sada’a.

A statement by a presidential committee tasked with overseeing the ceasefire, which was published by the state-run Saba News Agency on Sunday, said that the ceasefire would be implemented on Monday.

The ambassadors of the ten countries that backed the power transfer deal known as the GCC Initiative welcomed the ceasefire agreement in Amran in a press statement Sunday, according to the Saba News Agency. The ten countries include the five permanent members of the UNSC, GCC countries and members of the EU mission to Yemen.

“We completely support the effort of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi in ending armed confrontations and encourage all concerned parties to expand their efforts to develop a comprehensive peace plan through direct negotiations,” the statement read.

“All parties must protect civilians, respect the ceasefire and simplify the access of humanitarian aid.”

The recent fighting in Amran had displaced up to 40,000 people as of June 20, about half of whom had fled since May, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

The population caught in the fighting is in need of food, water and healthcare. Relief organizations suspended their activities outside Amran city due to the prevailing insecurity, according to the UNOCHA.

The organization added that the fighting has also blocked the Sana’a-Amran road, resulting in a suspension of aid to some of those who were displaced during fighting between October 2013 and March this year in Amran between Houthis and tribesmen of the Hashid tribe.

Food aid that was supposed to be distributed by relief organizations to 30,000 internally displaced persons in Amran and Sa’ada on May 26 was delayed due to security concerns, according to the UNOCHA.

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