The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen on Monday released more Houthi detainees as part of a unilateral prisoner release as the prospect for a peace deal between the warring sides continues to grow.
According to AP, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said 104 Houthi detainees were released. The step came a day after the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government completed a swap that freed over 900 people, including 700 Houthis and Saudi and Sudanese troops.
Also on Monday, The Cradle reported that three ships carrying hundreds of containers of food and commercial goods docked in Yemen’s Red Sea port of Hodeidah. The Saudi-Houthi peace talks that have been taking place have focused on lifting the blockade on Yemen, which has been implemented since 2015.
Houthi and Saudi officials held Omani-brokered negotiations in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital of Sanaa last week. No deal was agreed upon, but the Houthis said talks would continue after the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which is being celebrated this Thursday and Friday.
As Yemen peace efforts have made progress, President Biden sent high-level officials to the region, including Brett McGurk, the top Middle East official on the National Security Council.
According to the White House, during meetings between US and Saudi officials, the US side “confirmed its support for the defense of Saudi Arabia against threats from Yemen and elsewhere,” signaling the administration is willing to support Riyadh in its war if the peace process fails.
Since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 with full US support, at least 377,000 people have been killed in the war. More than half died due to starvation and disease that was caused by the blockade and the coalition’s brutal bombing campaign.