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Yemen's Houthis welcome release of 200 prisoners by Saudi-led coalition

ANI | Updated: Nov 27, 2019 10:46 IST

Sanaa [Syria], Nov 27 (ANI): The Houthis on Tuesday (local time) welcomed the Saudi-led coalition's announcement to release 200 of their rebels to support peace efforts aimed at ending the nearly five-year war in Yemen.
"We welcome the step announced by the Saudi-led coalition today," said Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, deputy head of the Houthi group, in a tweet.
Saudi Arabia's state-run news agency quoted coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki as saying on Tuesday that the move was aimed at paving the way for a larger and long-delayed prisoner swap agreed upon last year, Al Jazeera reported.
The coalition also said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency earlier that it would ease restrictions on Yemeni airspace to allow flights out of the Houthi-held capital, Sanaa, to transport people requiring medical treatments abroad.
The two sides signed a United Nations-brokered peace deal in Sweden last December, but are yet to implement it.
"The decision aims to further implement the Stockholm Agreement which includes the exchange of prisoners," al Maliki said.
The Houthis had in September unilaterally released 350 prisoners, including three Saudis, after extending an offer to halt cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia if the coalition ended air attacks on Yemen.
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by the Houthi rebels who have now taken control of much of the country's north.
The Saudi-UAE-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis overthrew from power the internationally-recognised government in Sanaa, which the coalition seeks to restore.
The five-year civil war has left tens of thousands of people dead, most of them civilians, according to relief organisations, and has pushed millions to the brink of famine in what the UN calls the worst humanitarian crisis anywhere in the world. (ANI)