Houthi fighters take cover. Photo: Stringer/Getty Images

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen has announced a two-week ceasefire in support of a UN-led peace initiative, AP reports.

Why it matters: There's little to show for five years of war in Yemen beyond one of the world's most dire humanitarian crises, which would only deepen in the event of a coronavirus outbreak. Sources told Reuters the virus was a driving factor behind the ceasefire, which could pave the war for peace talks in the coming days.

The backstory: The Houthis overthrew Yemen's Saudi-aligned president in late 2014, after which Saudi Arabia and several allies began a fierce bombing campaign.

  • The Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, waged with American-made weapons, has been widely criticized internationally due to its high civilian death toll and massive humanitarian crisis that has put millions on the brink of famine.
  • Despite efforts in Congress to suspend U.S. support to the coalition, the Trump administration has continued to back the Saudis, in part due to links between the Houthis and Iran.
  • Back-channel talks last year between the Saudis and Houthis had led to a reduction in violence, though casualties have spiked recently, per AP.

The latest: The Saudi proposal envisions "a nationwide ceasefire, including halting all air, ground and naval hostilities, and for the parties to ensure compliance by forces on frontlines," per Reuters.

  • The Houthi position on the offer is not yet known, though a spokesman had previously said the group had presented the UN with a framework for "a political dialogue and a transitional period" in the country.

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