Saudi coalition releases Yemeni prisoners as part of truce

SANAA, Yemen (AP) – The Red Cross said Friday that a plane carrying Yemeni prisoners held by the Saudi-led coalition has arrived in the southern city of Aden as part of a truce deal between the warring parties.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is facilitating the transfer of at least 100 prisoners back to Yemen on three flights, said Basheer Omar, ICRC Yemen spokesman.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said last month that it would release 163 prisoners to its rivals – the Iran-backed Houthi rebels – as part of a ceasefire agreement between them. The agreement aims to pave the way to an end for the nearly 8-year-old war.

There was no immediate comment from Houthi authorities on the release, or clarification on how the prisoners would make their way back to their territory. Aden, in the southern part of the country, is controlled by the country’s internationally recognized government.

The truce, which went into effect on April 2, is the first nationwide cease-fire in Yemen in six years. It came amid concerted international and regional efforts to find a settlement to a conflict that has devastated the Arab World’s poorest country and pushed it to the brink of famine.

But the full agreement has yet to be implemented. In late April, both sides of the war failed to operate the first commercial flight in six years from the rebel-held capital of Sanaa.

Yemen’s brutal civil war erupted in 2014, when the Iranian-backed Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, and forced the government into exile. The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in early 2015 to try to restore the government to power.

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