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Taiz to Free 194 Detainee in Largest Prisoner Swap | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A view of buildings destroyed during recent fighting in Yemen’s southwestern city of Taiz on March 14, 2016. (Reuters)

Taiz – Pro-government Forces and Houthi militias exchanged nearly 201 prisoners in the largest detainee swap to take place in the city since the beginning of war last year.

A committee of three former detainees mediated the negotiations that led to the swap, in addition to tribal chief Abudlatif al-Muradi. The swap was overseen by the International Red Cross.

The exchange included swapping 113 Houthis and 88 pro-government fighters Saturday morning, as it was agreed to complete the deal before Maghreb prayers.

One of the released detainees said they had been brutally tortured and the rest of the detainees not included in the swap are still suffering.

The exchange will raise hopes that the ceasefire declared in April may be taking hold in Yemen’s third largest city after repeated violations. Houthi militias continue to besiege the city preventing any humanitarian or medical aid from reaching civilians.

According to political analysts, the detainee swap comes after peace talks between insurgency and legality delegation in Kuwait despite the ongoing fight in Taiz with the militias targeting civilian areas.

Early in June, Houthi militias launched a rocket on a busy market killing 10 civilians and injuring over 120 others.

Taiz Military Council Spokesperson Lt. Mansour al-Hasani told Asharq Al-Awsat that former detainees and tribes overlooked the swap deal and mediated the operation. He added that Kuwait Peace Talks helped move things forward. He confirmed that negotiations will proceed until all detainees in Houthis prisons are released.

Hasani asserted that the swap deal occurred at a time Houthi militias continue to break the declared cease-fire in their attempt to advance towards National Army and Popular Resistance sites.

Northern side of the city witnessed several heavy clashes between government forces and insurgents while trying to target army and resistance sites in the city. The clashes resulted in insurgents’ withdrawal and government forces’ control on most of al-Zanouj areas, northern of the city.

Humanitarian Relief Coalition distributed 1249 food baskets to several areas in the Taiz, part of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center initiative to distribute the 100 thousand food basket and two tons of dates.

Head of expenditure committee of the Humanitarian Relief Coalition Ali al-Qobati said that the committee will continue its work in distributing the aids. He said the committee hopes this will help alleviate the suffering of the citizens.

In addition, the committee in Cairo and al-Muzafar district continued distributing food aid to civilians reaching 4789 food basket delivered. The operation will continue until all neighborhood within the geographical range of the district have received their share.