Planes carrying prisoners exchanged by the warring parties in Yemen took off from three airports on Thursday in an operation to return about 1,000 men home across the front lines, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.
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The Arab Coalition and Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi militia agreed last month in Switzerland to exchange 1,081 prisoners, including 15 Saudi Arabians and four Sudanese nationals, in the largest swap since peace talks in December 2018 that have since stalled.
In a message posted on Twitter, the ICRC later said a total of five planes had taken off from Sayoun, Sanaa and Abha.
This has been in the making for almost two years. Today, hundreds of detainees will be reunited with their families in #Yemen. It is a long process that will last for days but will end with families reuniting & that is what matters!!!— Fabrizio Carboni (@FCarboniICRC) October 15, 2020
“This operation that means so much to so many families is under way,” Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC regional director for the Middle East, told Reuters, speaking from Sanaa airport.
“It is quite remarkable because they are doing this while a conflict is still active.”