Some 128 Houthi rebels detained in Saudi Arabia were released and flown to the Yemeni capital on Thursday, as efforts to end the five-year conflict gain momentum.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has helped repatriate 128 rebels from Saudi Arabia to Yemen.
Prisoners arrived in Sanaa on three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) planes and were met at the airport by rebel commanders and some family members.
Some prisoners were helped off the plane into wheelchairs, while others lifted their white robes to show sores to a photographer.
“The treatment we received [in Saudi Arabia] was very bad,” said 35-year-old Abdel Raqib al-Abadi.
He said he hoped for peace but added if “Saudi aggression” continued, the war would continue “until victory”.
The UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, backed Thursday’s repatriation.
His office tweeted that he thanked the Saudis for releasing the detainees and for “the opening of Sanaa airport for mercy flights that would allow Yemenis to receive much-needed medical treatment abroad”.
Kedir Awol Omar, ICRC Saudi Arabia’s head of mission, said he hoped the prisoner releases by the Houthis and the Saudis “will create a positive dynamic and will allow more detainees to be reunited with their families”.
It remains unclear if the 128 repatriated prisoners are among the 200 Houthi rebels the Saudis announced would be released on Tuesday.
The prisoners released on Thursday had been captured in various parts of Yemen between 2015 and earlier this year.
Fighting in Yemen has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
About four-fifths of the population – 24 million people – are in need of humanitarian assistance or protection, including 10 million who rely on food aid to survive.
Riyadh and its allies intervened in the Yemen war in March 2015 to back the internationally recognised government, shortly after the Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized Sanaa.