The UN special envoy for Yemen has urged a halt to the “alarming military escalation” in fighting between the Saudi-led military coalition and Houthi Shiite rebels.

Martin Griffiths warned the UN Security Council at a closed meeting that the recent drastic escalation jeopardizes progress made by the warring parties in de-escalating the conflict, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday.

Less than two weeks ago, Griffiths reported to the council on a major reduction in military operations and other initiatives, AP reported. He expressed hope at the time that this would lead to talks between the government and Houthis on ending the five-year conflict in the Arab world’s poorest nation.

The sudden spike in violence across frontlines threatened to complicate indirect peace talks between Saudi Arabia and the rebels as well as Griffiths’ efforts to get both sides back to the negotiating table.

In a separate development, the representative for the UN children’s agency UNICEF welcomed the Houthis’ release in Sanaa on Tuesday of 64 children allegedly captured during military operations.

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