Doha: Yemeni negotiators taking part in UN-sponsored peace talks on Saturday agreed to form a committee to oversee a fragile ceasefire after fresh fighting imperilled their efforts to end Yemen’s civil war, sources close to the talks said.

They said the committee would be headed by a Lebanese army general and consist of representatives from the government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and from the rival Al Houthi militia, which is allied to Iran.

The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen voiced deep concern at “numerous reports of violations of the cessation of hostilities”, a UN statement said on Friday. The statement came after two ballistic missiles were fired at Saudi Arabia from Yemen.

Yemeni government forces were within 40 kilometres of the Al Houthi-held capital on Saturday as they pressed their advance against the militia, military sources said.

They were keeping up pressure in Nihm district, Sana’a province, after significant gains in Marib province, east of the capital. The government forces  and allied tribes in the area have laid siege to Nihm’s Fardha military, northeast of the capital.

Fierce fighting continued to rage in the north near the Saudi border over the past three days, Yemeni security sources and witnesses said. The clashes in Hajjah province killed more than 40 Al Houthis and 35 government troops, they said.

Prisoner release

On fifth day of talks in Biel, Switzerland, the Al Houthis agreed to release five high-profile prisoners, including the president’s brother and the defence minister.

They say Defence Minister Mahmoud Subaihi and Gen. Nasser Mansour Hadi, brother of President Hadi, will be handed over to the Red Cross with the other three prisoners.