Americans, Remains of Another, Freed From Iran-Backed Rebels

  • Americans, Remains of Another, Freed From Iran-Backed Rebels

Americans, Remains of Another, Freed From Iran-Backed Rebels

Oman sent two flights to Sanaa which also carried back 250 Yemenis who had been receiving treatment in the Gulf state and overseas, the Oman report said.

The civil war has also triggered the world's worst humanitarian disaster, with thousands of civilians dying from preventable causes, including malnutrition, disease and poor health.

Sandra Loli, a USA aid worker held hostage for three years, and businessman Mikael Gidada, detained for a year, were flown to Oman, along with the remains of Bilal Fateen.

A spokesman for the Houthi rebels - who control a large part of Yemen - said on Twitter that several hundred "wounded and stranded people from Yemen" had arrived in Sanaa on board planes from Oman.

In addition to the two Americans, the remains of a third, Bilal Fateen, were also being sent back to the United States.

O'Brien did not mention the exchange, but thanked the leaders of Oman and Saudi Arabia for their help in securing the release of the Americans.

Fateen "died during his unlawful captivity", Kieran Ramsey, director of the U.S. Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell (HRFC), said in a statement, although it's unclear how long he had been held.

Gidada, a businessman, has been held in Yemen for about a year and Loli, a humanitarian worker, has been held for three years.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi of the Houthi political council said, according to the Journal, "There are a lot of Americans visiting the Republic of Yemen, and they work safely in Yemen, but if those were just citizens with no involvement in suspicious acts or law violations they won't be subjected to anything".

After over five years of war, fighting remains deadlocked between the Houthis and the Yemeni government, backed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their coalition, whom the USA continues to arm despite allegations of war crimes.

The Saudi-led coalition, which backs the fledgling internationally-recognised government in Yemen, did not immediately comment on the release or whether there was a swap.

According to the newspaper, Saudi officials said they were reluctant to back the deal because it would allow dozens of Houthi militants trained on advanced drones and missiles to return to the battle zone.

Mr Abdulsalam also thanked Oman for its "humanitarian efforts" but did not mention the release of U.S. hostages.

They had travelled to Oman - which frequently plays the role of broker in the turbulent region - two years ago for medical treatment, the rebels said.

Loli and Gidada have not yet returned to the US, according to a second USA official, who added they are first undergoing medical checks, but will be headed home in the next 24 to 48 hours. The U.N. had said in September that the two warring sides agreed to exchange 1,081 conflict-related prisoners, including Saudi and Sudanese troops fighting on the side of the Saudi-led coalition.