The Yemeni government has turned down a truce offer from the country's Houthi fighters, Al-Jazeera website reports .A government official said on Sunday that the ceasefire deal should have included a pledge by the group not to attack neighbouring Saudi Arabia. The offerwas made on Saturday byHouthi leader Abdel-Malik al-Houthi. It was also rejected because he demanded that the government end its military operations first, the official said.
"The government rejects al-Houthi's initiative to accept the five points of the government terms [for peace], because it does not include a sixth point, which demands a pledge from the Houthis not to attack Saudi territory," the Yemeni official said. Yemen laid down ceasefire terms in August that included removing checkpoints, ending banditry, handing over all military equipment and weapons, and releasing civilians and military personnel.Government officials said Houthi leaders twice rejected the terms, while al-Houthi said Saturday that his fighters had twice declared they wanted to end the conflict.
The jection of the cease for coincided with a renewal of the fighting. Clashes between government forces and Houthis left 24 fighters dead, military officers said on Sunday. The fighting broke out on three fronts near Saada in the north. Government jets were carrying out raids in the area, officials said. The Yemeni defence ministry news website said a Houthi leader, identified as Qaed Abu Malik, was killed along with 20 other comrades in the Safia area of Saada. Three others were killed elsewhere, the site added.
Abdel Malik al-Houthi made hisoffer for a case fire on Saturdau through an audio message posted on the internet site of the Houthis. In it he said the government must not allow the conflict to be used by "international and regional forces" as an excuse to drag Yemen into a wider war."It was these forces and the stupidity of the government that led them to launch attacks on its own people," he said. "Nevertheless, and for the fourth time, I announce our acceptance of the [the government's] five conditions [for an end to the conflict] after the aggression stops ... the ball is now in the other party's court."
Al-Houthi's statement came on the heels of an announcement from his group on Monday that they would withdraw from Saudi territory they had occupied since November.