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Yemen ceasefire to begin today as UN talks open

Two earlier UN attempts at talks failed and the accompanying ceasefires quickly unraveled.

FILE: A screebgran picture shows people carrying an injured child in Yemen after Saudi-led air strikes in an ongoing war between the two countries.

DUBAI - A ceasefire to halt nine months of war in Yemen will take hold at noon local time (0900 GMT) on Tuesday, coinciding with the start of UN-backed peace talks in Switzerland, the Saudi-led coalition said on Tuesday.

"The command of the coalition forces announces a ceasefire as of 12 pm Sanaa time ... while retaining the right to respond to any breach of the ceasefire," the alliance said in a statement on the Saudi state news agency, SPA.

"The ceasefire (will last) for a period of seven days starting from the 15 to 21 December in conjunction with the launch of consultations, and will be renewed automatically in the event of the commitment of the other party," it sid.

Nearly 6,000 people have been killed in the conflict between a Saudi-led Arab alliance and the Iranian-allied Houthi group. Two earlier UN attempts at talks failed and the accompanying ceasefires quickly unravelled, creating one of the world's worst humanitarian crises and pushing Yemen towards total chaos.

The coalition opened a military campaign in late March to stop the Houthis, whom they see as a proxy for their arch-foe, Iran, from taking complete control of Yemen after they seized the capital, Sanaa, last year. The Houthis accuse the coalition of launching a war of aggression.

The campaign has brought embattled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi little closer to running a united country again. A stalemate in the fighting and the rise of Islamic State in Yemen may convince the warring sides that a peace accord is the only way to end the conflict.