First flight from Yemen’s Sanaa carrying Hajj pilgrims arrives in Saudi Arabia

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The first flight from Yemen’s Sanaa carrying over 200 Hajj pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Sunday.

The Yemenia Airways plane with 270 people on board landed at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport on Saturday coming from Sanaa International Airport, SPA said.

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The flight was announced by Yemeni Information Minister Moammar al-Iryani on June 15.

Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, has been under the control of the Iran-backed Houthi militia since 2014, prompting an Arab coalition to intervene to back the internationally recognized government.

The flight is the first since Sanaa’s airport was closed to commercial flights in 2016.

Upon their arrival, the Yemeni pilgrims expressed their appreciation for the facilities provided by the Kingdom and for the warm reception from airport officials.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah had said that the decision was rooted in the Kingdom’s keenness to ensure Yemenis from different parts of the country were able to perform Hajj.

Hajj is set to begin on June 26 – pending an official announcement by authorities.

Fighting in Yemen diminished considerably after a UN-brokered ceasefire was announced in April 2022. The truce expired in October, but fighting has largely remained on hold.

US National Security Council Spokesperson Adam Hodge said that the truce was brought clam to the people of Yemen.

“This is the quietest period since the war began almost a decade ago,” Hodge said in a statement welcoming Hajj flights between Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

“We credit Saudi Arabia for its efforts to support the truce over recent months, including the historic Hajj flights today that enable Yemenis to perform their religious obligations and other flights soon to follow,” Hodge said. “The United States remains engaged with all parties to consolidate the ongoing benefits from truce, and to ultimately end the war altogether through a Yemeni-led political process.”

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