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Yemen sources say prisoner swap possible on Wednesday


Map of Yemen-yalibnan

Map of Yemen-yalibnan

Loyalists and Iran-backed rebels in Yemen are expected on Wednesday to exchange hundreds of fighters held captive following weeks of mediation, tribal and military sources said.

News of the potential prisoner swap comes on the second day of UN-brokered peace talks in Switzerland between Yemen’s warring factions, who are observing a fragile ceasefire.

Mokhtar al-Rabbash, a member of the prisoners’ affairs committee, which is close to the government, said an agreement was in place to swap 375 rebel detainees for 285 prisoners fighting among the ranks of forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The exchange “must be completed before the end of (Wednesday) in Jabal al-Orr,” between the southern provinces of Bayda and Daleh, said Rabbash, who is himself a tribal dignitary.

A convoy carrying rebels expected to be released departed from the second city of Aden, the government’s provisional capital on Yemen’s south coast, and was on its way to Jabal al-Orr, said Rabbash.

He said that he expects “a similar convoy to be moving from Sanaa” carrying captive fighters.

A pro-Hadi military source confirmed that the exchange was expected to take place Wednesday, but there was no immediate confirmation from the rebels.

Contacted by AFP, the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Sanaa said the organisation was “not aware of such an exchange.”

Prisoner swaps are rare between factions taking part in Yemen’s war, which the UN estimates has killed 5,800 people — half of them civilians — since March.

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