Saudi Arabia moved a “strike force” to its border with Yemen, according to local media reports on Tuesday. Despite agreeing to a five day truce, the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels are continuing to exchange heavy fire.
Local broadcaster Al Arabiya TV showed videos of a column of tanks being moved atop military trucks, calling the scene “the arrival of reinforcements from the strike force to the border.”
The move followed intense artillery and rocket battles across the border on Monday.
The Saudis reportedly fired more than 150 rockets aimed at Yemen’s Saada and Hajjah provinces.
Saudi warplanes were reported to have struck Houthi encampments in the central city of Taiz as well as in Marib, the oil-producing province located east of the capital, Sanaa.
News outlet AFP reported the attacks prompted retaliatory fire from the Houthis, who fired Katyusha rockets and mortars on the Saudi cities of Jizan and Najran.
The violence comes just a day before a ceasefire, scheduled to start Tuesday, which could be jeopardized by continuing fighting between the two sides. The short humanitarian truce would Saudi airstrikes.
Iyad Nasr, regional spokesperson for the United Nations, said that five days might not be enough to “cover the whole of Yemen.”
“But at least we are looking at the accessing the situation on the ground, providing basic and life-saving operations to the Yemenis and priority areas,” Nasr said. “Additionally, we are seriously considering bringing aid supplies and fuel into Yemen from outside the country. This is a part of the humanitarian pause that we are looking forward to have in Yemen.”
The truce, in an effort to protect Yemeni civilians, came after UN officials called the bombing a breach of international law.
"The indiscriminate bombing of populated areas, with or without prior warning, is in contravention of international humanitarian law (IHL)," said Johannes van der Klaauw, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen. "Issuing warnings of impending attacks does not absolve the parties of their IHL obligations to protect civilians from harm."
"Many civilians are effectively trapped in Sanaa as they are unable to access transport because of the fuel shortage. The targeting of an entire governorate will put countless civilians at risk," Van der Klaauw said.
The city, as well as other parts of the country, are experiencing severe shortages of food and other resources.
Diesel and other fuel supplies are running dangerously low, with people having to resort to firewood. The fuel crisis “has paralyzed public life, but we have to provide for our families and work with whatever we have, as long as we are alive” said Abdullah Harazi, a bakery owner in Sanaa.