Saudi Arabia pledges to release 163 Houthi detainees

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Saudi Arabia pledged Thursday to release 163 Houthi detainees in a move toward peace with war-torn Yemen.

Houthi rebels took over Yemen’s capital of Sana’a in 2014, sparking military conflict between the Iran-backed Houthis and a Saudi-led coalition backing the Yemeni government.

The spokesperson for the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Malki, released a statement to the state-run Saudi Press Agency sharing the country’s commitment to release prisoners.

“The Joint Forces Command of the Coalition will release (163) Houthi detainees who had participated in hostilities against the Kingdom as a humanitarian initiative in extension to previous ones,” the statement reads.

Al-Malki said that the move was in “support of all the endeavors and efforts to bring about peace and end the Yemeni conflict, in addition to supporting UN efforts to stabilize the current ceasefire, and create conducive efforts for dialogue between Yemeni parties.”

Saudi Arabia has started releasing detainees and cooperating with the International Committee of the Red Cross to transport them from Saudi Arabia to Sana’a, according to Al-Malki.

He added that the initiative aims to end “the PoW, Detainee and Martyr case in accordance to Islamic principles, inherent Arab values as well as the International Humanitarian Law in the third Geneva Convention provisions that were stalled ever since 2018 in the Stockholm Agreement.”

“Putting an end to the prisoner exchange and martyr case is a priority to the political and military leaderships, who have always reaffirmed that dealings in these cases should be purely undertaken in a humanitarian manner, away from any political or military gains and agendas,” the statement added.

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