Yemen’s pro-government forces and Shiite Houthi rebels exchanged 224 prisoners in two days, the largest swap since the beginning of the civil war last year, officials from both sides said on Sunday.
CCTV America’s Mike Walter reports.
Yemen’s warring parties swap 224 prisonersYemen’s pro-government forces and Shiite Houthi rebels exchanged 224 prisoners in two days, the largest swap since the beginning of the civil war last year, officials from both sides said on Sunday.
The two sides exchanged 15 pro-government fighters and 15 Houthis in the northeast province of al-Jawf Sunday, according to tribal leader, Yahya al-Hasir, who performed the mediation efforts between the two sides.
Official media outlets of both warring sides confirmed the Sunday swap in al-Jawf.
The move came a day after both sides swap 76 pro-government fighters and 118 Houthis in the embattled city of Taiz, southwest of the country, according to official statements released by both warring sides on their media outlets on Saturday.
Last week, the U.N. envoy to the Yemeni conflict, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who is in charge of the ongoing peace talks between Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the Iranian-allied Shiite Houthi group, said that all Yemeni warring parties have agreed to the unconditional release of child soldiers.
Last month, the Yemeni government as well as the Houthis submitted lists of about 7,000 prisoner-release requests, including political detainees, to UN mediators.
Government officials accused the Houthis and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party of detaining over 4,000 prisoners, mostly politicians and activists.
The U.N. accused both the Yemeni warring parties of using child soldiers, and it is reported that 900 children were killed while 1,300 were wounded during the 2015 conflict.
The Iran-allied Shiite Houthi group supported by forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh advanced from their stronghold in the far north of the province of Saada, storming through the capital Sanaa and other cities in September 2014, dissolving the Saudi-backed government along with President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi based on combating “corruption” allegations.
The Saudi-led air force coalition intervened in March 2015, triggering an all-out civil war and vowing to reinstate Hadi to power and reclaim Sanaa.
The civil war has escalated since then, leaving over 6,000 dead so far in ground battles and airstrikes, half of who are civilians.
The ongoing conflict has also forcibly displaced over 2.4 million people from Yemen.
The warring parties have now been in talks in Kuwait since April under the U.N.’s auspices to end the war.
The government demands that Houthis and Saleh’s delegates comply with the U.N.’s Security Council Resolution 2216, which orders their withdrawal from Sanaa and their complete disarmament.
The demand has so far been rejected by the Houthis as well as Saleh.
Story by Xinhua.
Nadwa Al-Dawsari on plan for peace in Yemen
From the Houthi viewpoint, President Hadi has been replaced. But from President Hadi’s viewpoint, he’s still very much the leader.
So how will Yemen unite? CCTV America’s Mike Walter spoke to Nadwa Al-Dawsari, a senior fellow with the Project on Middle East Democracy.