March 25, 2016 / 7:28 PM / 2 years ago

Yemen Houthi chief says hopes for peace but will confront aggression

DUBAI (Reuters) - The leader of Yemen’s Houthi rebel movement said on Friday he wanted efforts to end a year-long war to succeed but his group was ready to confront its enemies if violence persisted.

File photo of people as they watch a screen displaying a live speech by the leader of the Houthi group Abdel-Malek al-Houthi in Sanaa, February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

The Iran-allied Houthis are battling Yemeni government forces backed by a Saudi-led military coalition in a conflict which has killed more than 6,000 and spread a humanitarian disaster across large parts of the Arab world’s poorest country.

This week a United Nations envoy said the warring parties had agreed to a cessation of hostilities starting at midnight on April 10 and peace talks in Kuwait as part of a fresh push to end the crisis following two rounds of failed talks last year.

“We hope that efforts to end the aggression will be successful, it is in the interest, and a demand, of our people” Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said in a televised speech.

“If those efforts do not succeed, we are ready to make sacrifices ... it is important to confront aggression if it continues.”

He also called on supporters to rally on Saturday in the capital Sanaa, which is Houthi-controlled, to mark a year since the Saudi-led campaign started.

The coalition is trying to prevent the Houthis and forces loyal to ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh from taking control.

Reporting by Ali Abdelaty in Cairo and Sylvia Westall in Dubai; Editing by Ruth Pitchford

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