An aircraft transporting 40 Houthi prisoners to Yemen landed in Aden as part of Saudi Arabia’s humanitarian initiative, the Arab Coalition said in a statement on Friday.
According to the latest update, a second batch of an unreported number of prisoners also arrived in Yemen’s Aden, with the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) adding that “foreign fighters” will be handed over to their country’s embassy.
The airlifts will happen in three phases to the Yemeni cities of Sanaa and Aden, the statement said, adding that a total of 108 prisoners will be released.
All prisoners will be transferred to Yemen by end of day in a Red Cross plane, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported.
The Arab Coalition announced on April 28 that it will release 163 Houthi prisoners who participated in combat operations against the Kingdom, also in a “humanitarian initiative.”
The prisoners had then participated in combat operations against the Kingdom, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The transfer is part of an effort to end the crisis in Yemen and achieve peace, Coalition Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Turki al-Maliki said.
It comes as the coalition seeks to fortify shared efforts to maintain the UN-brokered truce, which went into effect on April 2.
The fragile truce, which began on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, continues to be largely held, offering a glimmer of hope in war-torn Yemen.
US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking said the truce was a “first step” to a permanent ceasefire in an interview with Reuters in April.
“If the international community and parties can work together, this could be built into a lasting ceasefire and inclusive political process that ultimately gives shape to a new Yemen,” Lenderking said in the interview.
The truce has led to oil tankers arriving at the port of Hodeida, potentially easing fuel shortages in Sanaa and elsewhere.
The truce also involved a deal to resume commercial flights out of Sanaa’s airport for the first time in six years.