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Yemen: Saudi coalition to end all attacks on Houthis to pave way for peace talks

Saudi coalition spokesperson denies claims it struck a Houthi arms depot in Sanaa
Years of fighting has further compounded food scarcity in Yemen, triggering the world's worst humanitarian crisis (AFP)

The Saudi-led coalition said on Thursday that it had stopped all attacks against the Houthis in Yemen as a goodwill gesture for future peace talks. 

The statement came amid Omani attempts to end the six-year-long civil war that has led to thousands being displaced and the world's worst humanitarian crisis. 

Earlier on Thursday the coalition reportedly struck a Houthi arms depot near the capital Sanaa. 

Witnesses told AFP they could see smoke rising from the city.

Yemen war: Omani mediation and reduced air strikes increase hope in peace talks
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But coalition spokesperson Turki al-Maliki told Saudi state TV it had not run any operations in Sanaa or the surrounding area. 

"[The de-escalation] is aimed at preparing the political groundwork for a peace process in Yemen," said Maliki. 

His statement came as Houthi rebels continue to intensify fighting to take control of the Marib Province in Yemen. 

The loss of Marib could prove disastrous for the Saudi-backed Yemeni government, which needs it for oil revenues. 

Earlier this month, Omani officials visited Sanaa to convince the rebels to accept a ceasefire and help restart talks between the Houthis and the Yemeni government. 

Oman's foreign minister, Badr al-Busaidi, also arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday for talks. 

Local sources told AFP that Houthi officials began repairing roads near Sanaa airport in a further sign of possible peace talks and a sign the facility could be reopened following its closure to flights by the coalition in 2016. 

Since entering the Yemen civil war, the Saudi-led coalition has propped up the Yemeni government and controlled its airspace. 

A long-standing demand from the Houthis has been to reopen Sanaa airport and end a sea blockade to help kickstart the country's economy decimated by years of fighting.

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