SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The first commercial flight in six years took off from Yemen’s rebel-held capital on Monday, officials said, part of a fragile truce in the county’s grinding civil war.
The Yemen Airways flight, with 151 passengers on board, was bound for Jordan’s capital of Amman, according to media outlets run by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
Earlier, the plane had arrived in Sanaa to pick up the passengers. It was not clear where the plane had came from. On touchdown, the aircraft was welcomed by a ceremonial “water salute,” according to a video posted online by the national carrier.
The flight is part of the U.N.-brokered, 60-day truce agreement that the internationally recognized government and the Houthi rebels struck last month. The truce, which went into effect on April 2, is the first nationwide cease-fire in Yemen in six years.
The truce accord calls for two commercial flights a week to and from Sanaa to Jordan and Egypt. The Houthi-held Sanaa is blockaded by the Saudi-led coalition, which backs the internationally recognized government.
The flight was initially due to take off on April 2 but a dispute over passports issued by the Houthis had delayed the departure date. This time, the internationally recognized government allowed passengers with Houthi-issued documents to board the flight.
The fragile truce came amid concerted international and regional efforts to find a settlement to the conflict that has devastated the Arab world’s poorest country and pushed it to the brink of famine.
Yemen’s civil war erupted in 2014, when the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, and forced the government into exile. The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in early 2015 to try restore the government to power.
The Associated Press