Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have released two US citizens, one an aid worker and the other a businessman, as well as the remains of a third in return for some 250 Yemen nationals held in Oman. The Americans were flown on Wednesday to Muscat while the Yemenis were flown in a number of flights to Sanaa, Yemen’s capital. It was not immediately clear whether this is related to reports that the sides engaged in Yemen’s ongoing civil war will conduct a large prisoner swap on Thursday under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross. US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said in a statement: “We extend our sincerest thanks to Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman and King Salman of Saudi Arabia for their efforts to secure the release of our citizens.” Over 100,000 people have died as a result of the fighting in Yemen, which pits a Saudi-led coalition of Sunni states backing the country’s internationally-recognized government against the Shi’ite Houthis, who have captured most of Yemen’s main population centers, including Sanaa. The UN’s special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is currently working to bring both sides into negotiations to end the war.
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