Houthis release Yemeni military commander after 8 years

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Sanaa: Yemen’s Houthi rebels have released a government military commander who had been detained for eight years, a Houthi official announced in a statement.

Faisal Rajab, a commander in the Yemeni government army, was released on Sunday after a request was made by a tribal delegation from his hometown in the southern province of Abyan.

Abdulkadir al-Murtada, head of the Houthi prisoner affairs’ committee, confirmed Rajab’s release in a statement during a press conference held in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported.

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“With the release of the prisoner, Major General Faisal Rajab, we confirm our readiness for a (future) comprehensive prisoner swap,” al-Murtada said, urging the UN to “expedite the implementation of the prisoner exchange deal that was agreed upon in Switzerland”.

Rajab was seen being handed over to the tribal delegation during the press conference.

While welcoming Rajab’s release, Majid Fadail, the spokesman for the government negotiating delegation, tweeted that Rajab was originally supposed to be released as part of the UN-brokered prisoner swap deal implemented in mid-April, but that the Houthis insisted on delaying his release without giving any reason.

Rajab was captured in March 2015 after the Houthi rebels stormed the al-Anad Air Base in the southern province of Lahij. His name appeared on a list of around 900 prisoners who were freed in a three-day prisoner exchange in mid-April.

Yemen’s warring sides have expressed readiness for the next round of talks to end the war in the Arab state, which has been going on since late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi militia took control of several northern cities. Tens of thousands of people died in the war, which has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.

Recent peace efforts, particularly China-brokered talks that helped restore diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, have increased hope for a resolution to the Yemeni conflict.

(Except for the headline, the story has not been edited by Siasat staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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( With inputs from www.siasat.com )

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