Middle East

Planes carrying freed Houthis arrive in Yemen from Saudi Arabia

Move comes as part of Saudi humanitarian initiative

Planes carrying freed Houthis arrive in Yemen from Saudi Arabia

SANAA, Yemen

Planes carrying freed Houthi prisoners arrived in Yemen from Saudi Arabia, it was confirmed on Friday.

In a tweet, the Saudi Press Agency announced the "end of the process of releasing and transferring 163 Houthi prisoners."

It said the release was part of Saudi Arabia's humanitarian initiative to "support peace efforts."

"We appreciate the efforts and role of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to coordinate the return of prisoners," the statement added.

Meanwhile, the ICRC said it facilitated the repatriation of 117 detainees following a request from the Arab Coalition.

Turki Al-Maliki, spokesperson for the coalition, had earlier announced that 163 Houthis imprisoned while fighting against Saudi Arabia would be released.

On April 1, UN envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg announced a "long overdue" two-month truce between Yemen’s warring rivals, under which all offensive military air, ground, and maritime operations were halted.

Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014 when Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in early 2015 to restore the government to power.

The war has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with millions suffering from hunger.

*Writing by Bassel Barakat and Ali Murat Alhas in Ankara

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