ADEN - The United Nations has announced a new ceasefire in war-ravaged Yemen from early Thursday, after a week of escalated fighting sparked new international calls to end the conflict.

While President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government and its Saudi backers said they would support the truce, there has been no word from the Iran-backed rebels who control the capital Sanaa and other areas of the Arabian Peninsula country.

A cessation of hostilities that first went into effect in April "will re-enter into force at 23:59 Yemen time (2059 GMT) on 19 October 2016, for an initial period of 72 hours, subject to renewal", UN special envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in a statement late Monday.

Yemen has been rocked by war since the Huthi rebels and allied forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh overran Sanaa in September 2014.

The conflict escalated after a Saudi-led Arab coalition began a campaign against the rebels in March 2015.

The UN says the fighting has since killed almost 6,900 people, wounded more than 35,000 and displaced at least three million, with civilians paying the heaviest price amid a worsening humanitarian crisis.

UNICEF's representative in Sanaa, Mohammed al-Assadi, told reporters Sunday that "10 million" children in Yemen need "water, food, medicine, social protection, and general services". The United States, Britain and the UN peace envoy on Sunday urged the warring parties in Yemen's civil war to declare a ceasefire. Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalek al-Mekhlafi welcomed the truce which he said will be extended if the rebels adhere to it, activate a truce observing committee, end a months-long siege of Taez and allow "unrestricted" humanitarian aid into the loyalist-controlled third city.

Before the UN announcement, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir also said Riyadh was in favour of a truce if the rebels respect it, the daily Asharq al-Awsat reported.

This is the sixth attempt to establish a Yemen ceasefire. The April truce declared in conjunction with the start of peace talks in Kuwait was hardly observed on the ground, with each side blaming the other for violations. It collapsed as the talks ended in August with no breakthrough, prompting an intensified round of fighting.

The Arab coalition stepped up its air raids and cross-border attacks from Yemen on Saudi Arabia intensified. One of the deadliest coalition attacks was an October 8 air raid on a funeral ceremony in Sanaa that killed 140 people and wounded 525, drawing severe criticism of the coalition, which is backed logistically by Washington.

In a rapid escalation, Washington accused the rebels of targeting American warships in the Red Sea on October 9 and 12 with missiles that fell short. The US then hit radar sites in rebel-controlled territory in Washington's first direct action against the insurgents.

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday hailed the announcement of a 72-hour truce in Yemen starting later this week, and called for its "unconditional renewal." "This cessation requires all parties to implement a full and comprehensive halt to military activities of any kind, and help facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Yemenis across the country," Kerry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a drone strike killed eight suspected members of Al-Qaeda in south Yemen late Tuesday, security sources said. The strike hit two vehicles carrying the suspected militants in Shabwa province, killing six instantly while two died later of their wounds, the sources said. Six other alleged jihadists escaped a second air raid that missed two more vehicles in the same convoy, they added.