Yemeni sides agree to swap captives

Yemeni rival factions agree to swap soldiers, as UN-sponsored peace talks to end conflict in Yemen are ongoing in Switzerland for second day and Houthis claim Saudis violated ceasefire

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Soldiers loyal to Yemen's government ride atop a tank in the country's southwestern city of Taiz

Updated Dec 17, 2015

The Iranian-allied Houthi militias and their enemies - the Saudi backed fighters loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi - agreed on Wednesday to swap captured soldiers as renewed UN-sponsored peace talks take place in Switzerland to end the war entered their second day.

A seven-day ceasefire which began on Tuesday is planned to coincided with the peace talks to find a solution for the conflict which started in September and has claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people, half of them civilians.

The swap deal would include some 360 Houthi fighters who are held in the port city of Aden and 265 southern civilians and fighters. The exchange process would take place in central Yemen, according to Yemeni officials.

On Wednesday, the Houthis accused the Saudi-led coalition of violating the ceasefire.

UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said on Tuesday that the ceasefire was an outcome of the simultaneous peace talks that were underway in Switzerland.

The truce was set to continue up until the 21st of December, and was to be renewed automatically with the commitment of both parties.

As a result of Houthi aggression, Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi had to temporarily move to the Saudi capital Riyadh in March, and formally request Arab states to help “save Yemen” from Houthi expansion.

Since then a Saudi-led coalition have been fighting against Iranian-backed Houthis to restore Hadi to power.

The Houthi-controlled Saba news agency reported that a spokesman of forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh - who backs Houthis - said a "serious escalation by land, sea and air is taking place by the alliance in various areas."

The spokesman said the Saudi-led coalition is attacking Houthi forces in the Red Sea port cities of Hodaida and Taiz.

According to Saudi media, Saudi-led coalition spokesman Ahmed al Assiri said the coalition is committed to the ceasefire, however, is ready to respond any attack.

The Iranian-backed Houthis have been battling with the Saudi-led coalition since late March,

TRTWorld and agencies