Ceasefire declared in Yemen just hours after 15 civilian deaths

A ceasefire in Yemen has begun, despite Arab-led air strikes killing 15 civilians hours before it was due to take place.

A Saudi soldier stands guard in Jizan on the border with YemenReuters

The ceasefire still took effect in Yemen at noon local time (0900 GMT) and the warring parties have begun UN-sponsored peace talks in Switzerland.

War planes raided Bani al-Haddad, a village in the northern Hajjah province on the border with Saudi Arabia, killing 13 people and wounding 20 others, according to residents. Two more civilians died as medics were trying to evacuate them.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition could not be reached for immediate comment but the alliance says it does not target civilians.

At least 5,700 people have been killed so far in the war, almost half of them civilians.

In south-western Yemen, coalition forces captured the Red Sea island of Zuqur, part of the Hanish Archipelago that controls the main sea route near the strait of Bab al-Mandab, Saudi state television reported quoting the coalition spokesman.

The island contains the highest mountain in the area, which gives the coalition control over the waterway.

Residents also reported air strikes in Dhamar and Hodeida provinces and ground clashes in the city of Taiz, a focal point of fighting between the Houthis and Hadi supporters, as well as in Marib, east of the capital Sanaa.

The peace talks in Switzerland are aimed at reaching a lasting peace.

"UN Secretary-General Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announces today the start of cessation of hostilities in Yemen which he considers an initial first step towards building a lasting peace in the country," UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told a news briefing in Geneva.

Representatives of the Yemeni government and Houthi forces have arrived at an undisclosed location in Switzerland with delegations of 18 each, and were to start talks any minute, he said.

In a statement carried by Saudi state news agency SPA, the coalition said Arab forces retained the right to respond to any breach of the ceasefire.

The coalition has been waging mainly air strikes on the Houthis since March, after the Houthis seized control of much of the country in a series of moves that started in September 2014.

The Houthis say their actions are aimed at state corruption and against the militant Islamist al Qaeda, while the Saudi-led coalition sees the Houthis as furthering rival Iran's efforts to expand its influence into the Arabian Peninsula.

Two senior commanders from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were among dozens of fighters killed in a rocket strike in south-western Yemen, according to local media andYemeni sources on Monday.

A previous round of peace talks in Geneva in June failed to produce a breakthrough, with each side blaming the other for the failure of the talks.

Additional reporting by Reuters.