In the largest swap of its kind, Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the Iran-linked Houthi rebels started on Thursday to exchange 1,081 prisoners, including 15 Saudis, and 4 Sudanese, as part of a peace deal reached in December 2018.
Three planes carrying members of the coalition freed from detention took off from the Houthi-held capital, Sanaa, a Reuters witness said.
“This operation that means so much to so many families is under way,” Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC regional director for the Middle East, told Reuters from Sanaa airport.
Spokeswoman Ruth Hetherington for International Committee of the Red Cross, which co-chaired talks in Switzerland on prisoner swap delegations of Yemen’s legitimate government and Houthis militias last month in Geneva, said more than 700 prisoners had been exchanged on Thursday on a total of seven flights from Sayoun, Sanaa and Abha.
Experts expect that this big move on prisoner swap will help build the trust to enable fresh talks to end the five-year war.