Washington says Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has released two US prisoners held in the Arab country, in what it praised as a “humanitarian gesture.”
Speaking to reporters in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the Americans, who were not identified, left Yemen for Oman.
The top US diplomat further said the two were freed as part of complicated diplomatic arrangement that included airlifts for the Yemenis injured in a deadly Saudi bombing against a funeral in Sana’a.
The US was “very pleased” with the release of its nationals, Kerry said and vowed to “continue to work on other hostage situations here and elsewhere.”
Meanwhile, an unnamed Houthi official confirmed the prisoners’ departure from the Yemeni capital, Sana’a.
Omani state television also broadcast footage of the captives disembarking from a plane belonging to the country’s royal air force.
The US State Department welcomed the Houthis’ move to and voiced gratitude to the Omani government for facilitating the process.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Kerry noted that his country was discussing a ceasefire in Yemen with Saudi officials, with more information on the issue likely coming out on Sunday.
“We are working very hard to get a framework in Yemen which will change the dynamics and move that to the table as soon as possible,” the top US diplomat added.
Yemen has seen almost daily military attacks by Saudi Arabia since late March 2015, with the UN putting the toll from the aggression at more than 10,000.
The offensive was launched to crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement and its allies and bring back the former Yemeni government to power. The US has been providing logistic and surveillance support to the kingdom in the bloody military campaign.
In one of the deadliest attacks in the impoverished country, Saudi warplanes bombarded a funeral hall packed with mourners in Sana’a on October 8, killing over 140 people and injuring at least 525 others.
On Saturday, the Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) claimed that the Riyadh regime had “wrongly targeted” the site based on what it called bad information.
The Sana’a bombing was not the first attack on civilians by Saudi jets as they have targeted busy markets, schools, weddings and hospitals over the past year, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries.