Baku. 29 March. REPORT.AZ/ A Saudi-led military coalition said on Monday it had completed a prisoner swap in Yemen, exchanging nine Saudi prisoners for 109 Yemeni nationals ahead of a planned truce and peace talks aimed at ending the year-long war with Houthi rebels, Report informs referring to the foreign media.
The exchange coincided with fresh air strikes by both the coalition and by U.S. warplanes on Islamist militants in southern Yemen that killed at least 21 people.
The coalition did not say which group the swap was made with, but the Houthi movement said on Sunday it had exchanged prisoners with its enemy Riyadh as a first step toward ending a humanitarian crisis prompted by the war.
The Iran-allied Houthis have been battling forces loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi since last March in a conflict that has cost more than 6,200 lives.
Saudi Arabia received its nationals on Sunday, the coalition statement published on Saudi state news agency SPA said. The alliance "hopes to begin a truce in conflict areas of the Republic of Yemen" it added.
Yemeni media said the nine Saudis were soldiers. The freed Yemenis had been detained during operations in Yemen, SPA said.
News website 'Yemen Now' published a photo of a group of smiling, waving men in white robes and keffiyeh head scarves, which it said was of the soldiers. It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the image.