The Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen has said it has stopped carrying out attacks to pave the way for a peaceful settlement to the conflict.
The move comes amid growing diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire agreement after more than six years of devastating war.
It also followed reports that the coalition had struck a Houthi armoured division near the rebel-held capital Sanaa on Thursday. Correspondents with the AFP news agency in the city heard loud explosions and saw smoke rising in the sky. The Houthis did not immediately comment on the explosion.
Coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki told Saudi state television that “no military operation has been carried out in the vicinity of Sanaa or any other Yemeni cities in the past period”.
The de-escalation is aimed at “preparing the political ground for a peace process in Yemen”, he said.
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition intervened to support the Yemeni government in 2015 after the Houthis had captured Sanaa the previous year, forcing the government to flee.
The war in Yemen has led to what the United Nations has described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with tens of thousands killed, millions displaced and two-thirds of its 30 million population dependent on aid.