190209 yemen
United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths (C-R) and International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer (C-L) attend a new round of talks by Yemen's warring parties on prisoners swap in Amman Image Credit: AFP

Cairo - The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen launched a targeting operation in the Al Houthi-occupied capital, Sana’a, Saudi state TV reported on Saturday. The operation targeted a location for storing and preparing drones and launch vehicles in Sana’a.

The coalition added that the operation conformed to international law and that measures were taken to protect civilians.

Meanwhile, mediators said on Friday that Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and Al Houthi militia have made “important progress” during talks in Jordan on a troubled UN-brokered prisoner swap deal.

The huge prisoner exchange agreed in Stockholm in December is seen as a crucial confidence-building measure in the UN-led push to calm four years of devastating conflict.

After three days of talks in the Jordanian capital, a UN committee tasked with overseeing the swap said the warring sides had made “important progress in moving the release process forward”.

That headway included “providing additional information on the status of individuals included in the lists of prisoners”, it added.

Both sides have said repeatedly they remain committed to the agreement that could see thousands of prisoners released.

During talks in Jordan last month, they submitted lists of the detainees they each want to see freed, but deep distrust prevented them coming up with a final list of names for the exchange.

At the end of January, the militia released a captured Saudi soldier while Riyadh set free seven Al Houthi prisoners, but they are the only detainees exchanged under the deal so far.

UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths said Tuesday at the opening of this round of talks he hoped the two sides would manage to finalise the swap deal.

“Success in this regard is not only of huge importance for those who will be released and return to their families but also to the broader political process in which we are engaged,” he said

The prisoner exchange was one of the key breakthroughs at the UN-mediated talks in December.

There are fears that if the exchange fails it could have a knock-on effect on the other key elements - fragile truce agreements for the lifeline port of Hodeida and battleground third city of Taiz.

Those deals too have faced problems - while the ceasefires have largely held, timetables for the pullback of combatants have fallen far behind schedule.

Yemen’s government and Al Houthi rebels have agreed on a preliminary compromise for redeploying their forces from the port city of Hodeida, the UN said Thursday.