Yemen rebels free 290 prisoners: ICRC

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Yemen's Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah, have released 290 hostages on Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement on Monday.

The Houthis, who control most major urban areas, said on September 20 they would halt missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia if the alliance stopped its operations.

A government source confirmed that 200 prisoners were killed in the fighting, but said that the number of prisoners taken was less than the Houthis claimed, estimating the number to be about 1,300 Yemeni soldiers.

Cabinet spokesman Ali Rabiei said the world has ignored another possibility, that the Houthis could have used Russian weapons seized from the Yemeni army or that they had procured them on the weapons market.

The coalition of Sunni Muslim countries joined Yemen's conflict in March 2015 to restore the country's internationally recognized government after it was driven out of Sanaa by the Shiite Houthis.

The United Nations' special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, welcomed the initiative to "unilaterally release detainees".

The battle has deepened a humanitarian disaster that has left greater than 80 p.c of Yemen's inhabitants of practically 30 million in want of help, together with tens of millions getting ready to starvation.

Official UN figures say that more than 15,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the Saudi-led bombing campaign began.

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He called on all parties to work together to speed up the release of prisoners, saying they and their families had "endured profound pain and suffering".

One of the prisoners freed by the rebels, Abu Hossam, said he was taken in the port city of Hodeida two years ago.

Forces loyal to Hadi's government released more than 20 Houthi prisoners earlier this month, according to el-Murtaza.

A United Nations -brokered prisoner swap deal agreed between the Houthis and Yemen's Saudi-backed government last December involving some 7,000 detainees on each side has yet to happen.

Moreover, he refuted Houthi claims that they had defeated three brigades and captured thousands of prisons.

Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesman, described an ambush on the Saudi forces that then developed into an "all-out" cross-border offensive that trapped the troops inside Saudi Arabia.

Khaled al-Qarni told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Houthis were attempting to divert the global community's attention from the major crime committed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards against the Saudi Aramco oil facilities on September 14.

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