The Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen announced on Thursday that it had suspended its operations against the Houthi rebels in Yemen to make way for a political solution to the bloody conflict in the impoverished country.
The statements of the coalition spokesman, Brigadier General Turki Al-Maliki, came at a time when the United Nations, Washington and regional capitals were leading major diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire between the parties to the conflict.
An AFP correspondent heard explosions in the capital, Sanaa, which is under the control of the rebels, while the agency's photographer saw smoke rising from several locations. But the coalition was quick to confirm that it was not behind any of them.
Al-Maliki said, according to what was reported by the Saudi government media, "No military operations were carried out in the vicinity of Sanaa and any other Yemeni city during the last period," adding that it was decided "not to carry out any operation with the aim of creating the political atmosphere for the peaceful path."
Omani Foreign Minister Badr al-Busaidi arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday for talks.
In another sign of progress in peace efforts, the Houthis began repairing roads near Sanaa airport, which has been closed since 2016, local sources told AFP, indicating that it may reopen soon.
The conflict in Yemen that erupted in 2014, witnessed bloody confrontations between the Houthi rebels and the forces of the internationally recognized government, backed by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia.
The conflict has left tens of thousands dead and pushed nearly 80 percent of the population to rely on relief amid the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations. It has also displaced millions of people and left an entire country on the brink of famine.
While the United Nations and the administration of US President Joe Biden are pushing to end the war, the rebels are demanding the opening of Sanaa airport before agreeing to a ceasefire and sitting at the negotiating table.