Yemen army welcomes U.N. envoy appeal for truce extension: SABA

CAIRO (Reuters) - Yemen's army welcomed a request by the country's United Nations envoy to extend a humanitarian truce to allow more aid to be delivered to the country, an army spokesman said in a statement reported by the country's state news agency. Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed made his appeal at the opening of a conference of Yemeni parties that convened in the Saudi capital Riyadh to discuss ways of ending political turmoil in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country. Since Tuesday Saudi-led forces and Yemen's Houthi militias have largely observed a ceasefire meant to allow delivery of food, fuel and medical supplies to millions of Yemenis caught in the conflict since the alliance began air strikes on March 26. The truce ended on Sunday at 4 p.m. EDT. "We welcome the call by the UN envoy to Yemen ... regarding the extension of the truce and the need to deliver humanitarian aid to citizens," SABA quoted Brigadier General Sharaf Luqman as saying. "We declare this position despite the ongoing aggression from the enemy since the first hour of the truce," said Luqman, who held a press conference in Sanaa. Luqman stressed the dire situation in the country. "Despite daily appeals of health institutions and hospitals about the disastrous health situation and the lack of drugs, we did not find any response during the days of the truce," he said. Relief groups have said the five days were hardly enough to allow sufficient supplies to reach the country of 25 million. Impoverished and strife-torn even before the war, Yemen is now mired in a humanitarian catastrophe as 300,000 people have been displaced by the conflict and 12 million are short of food. (Reporting by Mohamed Ghobari; Editing by Toni Reinhold)