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Yemen's Houthis offer Hadi government prisoner swap deal

October 11, 2019 at 9:27 am

Houthis in Sana’a, Yemen. [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

Yemen’s Houthis yesterday offered the internationally recognised Yemeni government a prisoner swap involving 2,000 detainees after the group unilaterally freed hundreds of prisoners last month, Reuters reported.

“We told the local mediators that we are ready to implement a prisoner exchange within one week. We are waiting for the other side to respond,” the head of the Houthis’ Prisoner Affairs Committee, Abdul Qader Al-Murtada, was quoted as saying by Houthi-run Al Masirah TV.

He said a deal would cover 2,000 prisoners in “a first phase”.

There was no immediate response from the Yemeni government.

READ: Coalition strikes on Yemen decrease after Houthi truce

The Houthis last month offered to stop launching missiles and drones at Saudi Arabia if its coalition ended air strikes on Yemen. They later released hundreds of prisoners in a move welcomed by the United Nations which is trying to revive a stalled peace process.

Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and the Houthis agreed last December to a UN-brokered deal to exchange some 15,000 prisoners as part of trust building measures between the warring parties, but it has yet to be implemented.

The Houthi truce offer was extended after the movement claimed responsibility for the 14 September attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. Riyadh rejected the claim and instead blamed its regional foe Iran, a charge Tehran denies.

The coalition has yet to respond to the ceasefire offer but senior Saudi officials have said they viewed it “positively”.