alliance confirms Yemen prisoner swap
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[March 28, 2016]
DUBAI (Reuters) - A Saudi-led
military coalition on Monday said it had completed a prisoner swap in
Yemen, exchanging nine Saudi prisoners for 109 Yemeni nationals ahead of
a planned truce and peace talks aimed at ending the year-long war with
The statement did not say which group the deal was made with, but
the Iran-allied Houthi movement said on Sunday it had exchanged
prisoners with its enemy Riyadh, as a first step towards ending a
humanitarian crisis prompted by the conflict.
The Iran-allied Houthis are battling Yemeni government forces backed
by a Saudi-led military coalition.
Saudi Arabia received its nationals on Sunday, the coalition
statement published on Saudi Arabia's state news agency SPA said.
The alliance "hopes to begin a truce in conflict areas of the
Republic of Yemen," it added.
Yemeni media said that the nine men were soldiers. The released
Yemenis had been detained during operations in Yemen, SPA said.
News site Yemen Now published a photo of a group of smiling, waving
men in white robes and keffiyeh head scarves, which it said was of
the soldiers. Reuters was not immediately able to verify the image.
The agreement is one of several prisoner swaps between the two sides
since late last year in a conflict which has killed more than 6,000
people and triggered a humanitarian crisis in the Arab world's
Last week the United Nations said the warring parties had agreed to
a cessation of hostilities starting at midnight on April 10 and
peace talks in Kuwait as part of a fresh push to end the crisis
following two rounds of failed talks last year.
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The leader of the Houthis said on Friday he wanted peace efforts to
succeed but said his group was ready to confront its enemies if
The main battle between the Houthis and the Yemeni government backed
by the coalition has led to a power vacuum in parts of the country,
allowing al Qaeda and Islamic State-linked fighters to take
Air raids killed 14 men suspected of belonging to al Qaeda in
southern Yemen on Sunday, medics and local residents said, in one of
the largest U.S.-led assaults on the group since a civil war broke
out a year ago.
(Reporting by Sylvia Westall, additonal reporting by Mohammed
Mukhashaf in Aden and Mohamed Ghobari in Cairo; Editing by Clarence
Fernandez and Louise Hevens)
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