May 30-June 5: Dozens of prisoners exchanged, Ta'iz market struck by Houthi shelling

Monday, May 30Saudi Arabia reportedly intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile fired from Yemen, prompting the Saudi-led military coalition to issue a statement late on Monday saying it may be forced to reconsider the ceasefire.

Saudi state news agency SPA did not provide any details on the target or the type of missile used, but said that the missile was destroyed in mid-air. The agency added that the Saudi-led coalition warned it would not sit idle against any further violations of the truce, which began on April 10.

"The coalition command, through this statement, assert that violating the truce by the Houthi militia and its supporters and the targeting of the kingdom's lands ... would force the coalition to reconsider the feasibility of this policy (of self restraint)," SPA said.

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed held bilateral meetings with the Houthi and Hadi government delegations Monday, emphasizing afterwards that violations of the Cessation of Hostilities are unacceptable. He added that economic decline, water and electricity shortages should motivate the parties to redouble their efforts towards reaching a comprehensive and peaceful solution. He said that political bickering will only complicate issues and only a political solution will help resolve them.

Tuesday, May 31 According to Yemeni media reports, Ma'reb Press website correspondent Abdallah Azizan was killed on 29 May while covering clashes between Houthi rebels and pro-government forces in Bayhan. A tally by Reporters Without Borders lists Azizan as the fifth journalist to be killed since the start of the year in Yemen. Ten other journalists detained by the Houthis have reportedly been moved to an undisclosed location after being held for nearly a year. These journalists began a hunger strike on May 9.

Wednesday, June 1 Pro-government Popular Resistance fighters reportedly freed 19 Houthi prisoners in exchange for 16 of their fighters. The prisoner swap took place after Yemeni government officials and rebels agreed on Tuesday to free half of the prisoners and detainees held by both sides within 20 days.

US Secretary of State John Kerry sat down with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes to speak about the US-backed Saudi-led war in Yemen. Kerry claims that the Saudis are making certain that they are acting responsibly and not endangering civilians in Yemen, while the Houthis “have a practiced way of putting civilians into danger.”

Thursday, June 2 The United Nations has added Saudi Arabia to its annual blacklist of states and armed groups that violate children's rights during conflict. The coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries last year, killing 510 and wounding 667, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's report. It also states that the coalition carried out half of the attacks that have struck Yemen's schools and hospitals. Ban noted that the Houthis are responsible for a fifth of child casualties in Yemen.

"In Yemen, owing to the very large number of violations attributed to the two parties, the Houthis/Ansar Allah and the Saudi Arabia-led coalition are listed for killing and maiming and attacks on schools and hospitals," Ban said.

The Houthis, Yemen government forces, and pro-government militia have been on the UN blacklist for at least five years.

Human Rights Watch also called on parties to the conflict in Yemen to release captured children and make a commitment to not re-enlist child soldiers. Houthi forces, government and pro-government forces, and extremist armed groups have used child soldiers, who are an estimated one-third of the fighters in Yemen.

“All parties should ensure that children, who never should have been on the battlefield in the first place, are released during this prisoner exchange and demobilized,” said Bill Van Esveld, senior children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Both sides should stop recruiting and placing children in danger and return them immediately to their families.”

Friday, June 3 At least 17 civilians, including 10 women and a young girl, were killed and 30 others injured when Houthi rockets targeted a busy market in Ta’iz, where residents were shopping in preparation for Ramadan.

Saturday, June 4 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Friday’s attacks in Ta’iz, which were carried out with heavy weapons, including rockets, mortars, and artillery.

“The UN chief underscored to all parties that targeting civilian areas is a violation of international humanitarian law and urged them to fully respect their obligations in this regard. Mr. Ban also called for an independent investigation to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.”

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has retracted a previous statement that threatened to target the homes of officers participating in the war against them. The original statement had warned the officers to remove women and children from their homes, as AQAP considers the houses legitimate targets. AQAP now says that statement was a mistake that doesn’t reflect their policies, but added that it was “in response to the bombings of Muslims’ homes in recent months by planes and helicopters, resulting in the deaths of women and children, and spreading fear.”

The retraction is likely another attempt by AQAP to appear to locals as an organization that prioritizes the safety of citizens and is capable of governing.