Yemen rebels, loyalists free 135 in prisoner swap

Yemen rebels, loyalists free 135 in prisoner swap

Representative image.

Yemen rebels and pro-government forces on Thursday exchanged 135 prisoners in the hotly contested city of Taiz, loyalist military sources said.

The exchange in the southwest Yemen city, which is held by forces backing the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi but have been long surrounded by Huthi rebels; came after tribal mediation, one of the sources said.

The Yemen rebels freed 75 hostages in exchange for loyalist forces releasing 60 rebels, the source added.

On Tuesday, 11 prisoners (five loyalist soldiers and six rebels) were exchanged in the northern governorate of Jawf following another tribal mediation, according to a military source.

The trade is the latest in a string of prisoner swaps and release deals, since a 2018 United Nations-mediated agreement to exchange 15,000 prisoners took place.

The landmark agreement signed in Sweden last December, was hailed as Yemen's best chance so far to end a war that has pushed the country to the brink of famine and has left tens of thousands dead, according to aid groups.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in November repatriated to Huthi-held capital Sanaa, where 128 Yemeni rebels were freed by Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition against the insurgents.

This came after the rebels released 290 prisoners in late September, the ICRC said.