Released prisoners of war are welcomed at the King Salman airbase in Riyadh. Image Credit: Okaz

Cairo: Nineteen prisoners of war have arrived in Saudi Arabia from Yemen under a UN-mediated swap deal with Al Houthi militia, officials said.

The returnees including 15 Saudi citizens and four Sudanese nationals arrived Thursday evening at the King Salman airbase in Riyadh, spokesman for the Arab coalition Col. Turki Al Maliki said. They were welcomed by Acting Joint Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Mutlaq bin Salem Al Azima, Brig. Gen. Majdi Al Samani, the military attaché to Sudan’s embassy in Saudi Arabia, and families of the prisoners, Col. Al Maliki added.

He expressed the coalition’s appreciation of efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross and UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths in implementing the first stage of a prisoner exchange agreement as part of the Stockholm accord reached in December 2018, the Saudi news agency SPA reported. The coalition, fighting Yemen’s Iran-aligned Al Houthi rebels, Thursday released 200 Al Houthi prisoners, according to Saudi newspaper Okaz.

The Red Cross said it has facilitated so far the transfer and release of more than 700 former detainees between Saudi Arabia, Al Houthi –controlled Sanaa and the government-held area of Seiyun.

Yemen’s conflict erupted after Al Houthis unseated the internationally recognised government and overran parts of the country, including the capital Sana’a in late 2014.

In 2015, an Arab alliance co-led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, intervened in Yemen in response to a request from the government there.