SANAA: The Yemeni government and Houthi rebels completed the exchange of 1,056 prisoners, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Yemen said.
“We’re encouraged by this success and hope that it leads to more steps towards the transfer and release of more detainees,” tweeted ICRC, organizer of the two-day process of exchange of prisoners between the Yemeni warring parties.
Those freed include 15 Saudi and four Sudanese soldiers of the Saudi-led coalition which backs the Yemeni government forces, according to the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV.
Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik said in a statement carried by the state Saba news agency that his government “will spare no efforts to get all abductees and detainees who are held in the Houthi militia’s jails released and ensure their return to families.”
Meanwhile, Abdulkadir al-Murtada, head of the Houthi prisoner committee, was quoted by Houthi-run al-Masirah TV as saying a total of 670 members of the Houthi group were freed.
This is the first major breakthrough in United Nations-led peace efforts since the two warring parties, which have held some 15,000 detainees, reached a prisoner swap deal in Stockholm in 2018.
Yemen has been mired in civil war since late 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized control of several northern provinces and forced the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of the capital Sanaa.
The war has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced 4 million and pushed the country to the brink of famine.