The prisoner exchange process will take place over three days in various regions of Yemen and Saudi Arabia./ Photo: AFP The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported this Friday that the exchange of prisoners of war in Yemen began, as Saudi Arabia tries to broker a truce with rebels in the war-torn country. The Red Cross plane arrived in Aden from Sanaa carrying 35 released prisoners of war, including former Defense Minister Mahmoud al-Subaihi and the former president’s brother, General Nasser Mansour Hadi, as well as servicemen from Yemeni forces on the west coast. reported the Russian news agency Sputnik, citing an anonymous source. For her part, the ICRC spokeswoman, Jessica Moussan, confirmed to AFP that the first plane left Sanaa as part of the exchange. The plane, which left the capital of the country, controlled by the Houthi rebels, is heading to Aden, where the government, supported by Saudi Arabia, is temporarily based. Another plane, with 35 prisoners on board, is expected to arrive in Aden from Sanaa in the next few hours. For its part, a plane with prisoners from the Shiite rebel movement of the Houthis arrived from Aden to the capital Sanaa. On March 30, the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels agreed to carry out a massive prisoner-of-war exchange in negotiations in Geneva, under the auspices of the United Nations (UN). The beginning of the exchange was scheduled for last Tuesday, but it was postponed until today. Some 900 prisoners of war will be released as part of the exchange. The last operation of this magnitude dates back to October 2020, when more than 1,000 prisoners were released in 48 hours. Saudi Arabia intervened in neighboring Yemen in 2015 to back pro-government forces against the Iranian-backed Houthis, who in eight years of conflict have seized vast tracts of territory in the north and west of the poorest country on the peninsula. arabic This diplomatic turn raised hopes of a de-escalation in Yemen. / Photo: AFP The war has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of displaced persons, with epidemics, lack of drinking water and acute hunger. More than three quarters of the population depend on international aid. The prisoner exchange process will take place over three days in various regions of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, according to an ICRC statement. With this goodwill gesture, hundreds of conflict-torn families will gather for Ramadan, bringing a light of hope in the midst of great suffering, said Fabrizio Carboni, director of the ICRC in the Middle East, referring to the current Muslim month of fasting. Quoted in the statement, he said that he hoped these releases would give impetus to a broader political solution. The Bern deal followed an unexpected rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, two rival Gulf heavyweights, and sometimes even on opposite sides in Middle Eastern conflicts, such as in Yemen. This diplomatic turn raised hopes of a de-escalation in Yemen. A Saudi delegation was in Sanaa this week and left with only a preliminary truce agreement and a promise of new talks, a rebel leader said on condition of anonymity. According to Yemeni government sources, who also requested anonymity, the talks focus on a six-month truce that opens the way for a three-month period of negotiations on a two-year transition, during which the solution will be addressed. between all the parties. The truce must allow the two main demands of the rebels to be met: the payment of the salaries of civil servants in the rebel areas and the reopening of the Sanaa airport, strictly controlled by Saudi aviation. Last year, the parties had already observed a six-month truce. Although it was not officially extended after it expired in early October, the situation on the ground remained relatively calm.