Houthis Say Prisoner Swap Deal Includes 16 Saudis and the Brother of Yemen’s President

CAIRO, March 27 (Reuters) – A prisoner swap deal was agreed this month by Yemen’s Houthi movement and the country’s internationally recognized government, which is supported by a Saudi-led military coalition, a Houthi official said on Sunday.

Abdul Qader al-Mortada said on Twitter that the deal, under the auspices of the United Nations, includes 1,400 Houthi prisoners in return for 823 prisoners including 16 Saudis, three Sudanese prisoners, the brother of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and former defence minister Mahmoud al-Subaihi.

Mortada, head of the Houthis’ national committee for prisoner affairs, added that the two parties would exchange their lists of prisoners on Tuesday.

However an official in Hadi’s internationally recognized government said no final agreement had been reached yet.

“The issue is under discussion. When there is a final approval, a formal note will be sent to the (U.N.) envoy’s office and it will be published,” said Hadi Haig, head of the the government’s delegation in the prisoner talks.

A senior official at the U.N. envoy’s office in Yemen also said no final deal had been reached between the parties.

The war in Yemen between the Iran-aligned Houthi group and the Saudi-led military coalition has entered its eighth year, and violence has worsened over recent months. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, and left millions facing starvation and disease.

On Saturday, the Houthis said they were suspending missile and drone strikes on Saudi Arabia for three days, in a peace initiative it said could be a lasting commitment if the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen stopped air strikes and lifted port restrictions.

They also expressed readiness to release all prisoners, including Hadi’s brother.

Reporting by Yasmin Hussein and Mohammed Ghobari, Editing by William Maclean and Pravin Char

Source: Reuters