Arab coalition frees Yemen rebels in peace gesture

More than 100 prisoners will be released in three phases

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Published: Fri 6 May 2022, 10:49 PM

The Saudi-led Arab military coalition fighting Yemen's Houthi rebels said Friday it had freed a batch of rebel prisoners, part of what it describes as efforts to end the seven-year war.

Last week, the coalition said it would release 163 prisoners.

The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said on Twitter early Friday evening that all 163 had been flown to Yemen.

Earlier in the day it had said the process would involve "three stages of air transport of prisoners" to Yemen's capital Sanaa and the southern port city of Aden.

A spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross told AFP the organisation was "facilitating the transfer of more than 100 Yemeni former detainees from Saudi Arabia to Yemen".

The spokesman, Basheer Omar, said there would be three ICRC flights from the Saudi city of Abha to Aden.

An ICRC statement said 117 Yemeni prisoners were repatriated Friday, while others were released in an earlier operation in which the ICRC did not participate.

"We are pleased to see that humanitarian considerations are being prioritised for the sake of the families, who are waiting for their loved ones to return home," said Katharina Ritz, head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen.

"It is important to alleviate the suffering of the many Yemenis who continue to suffer from more than seven years of conflict. This includes detainees and their families."

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