Two U.S. Hostages Released in Yemen in Exchange for Over 200 Houthi Militants

Supporters of the Houthi movement shout slogans as they attend a rally to mark the 4th anniversary of the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen’s war, in Sanaa, Yemen March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Two US hostages held by Houthi rebels in Yemen have been released, seemingly as part of a large prisoner exchange.

Sandra Loli, a humanitarian worker held for about three years, and businessman Mikael Gidada, held for about one, were freed on Wednesday, US officials said.

The remains of a third US captive, Bilal Fateen, were repatriated as well.

It comes after the Houthis reported receiving more than 200 Yemenis from Oman, where many had been stranded after receiving medical treatment.

A much-anticipated swap between Yemen’s internationally recognised, Saudi-backed government and the Houthi rebels had been expected to take place on Thursday.

In a statement, the US state department welcomed the release of Ms Loli and Mr Gidada, and extended its condolences to the family of Mr Fateen.

US national security adviser Robert C O’Brien thanked Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman and King Salman of Saudi Arabia for their assistance, and credited President Donald Trump for his support.

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