İrem UZUN -TDO- The warring sides in Yemen will exchange 1,081 prisoners on Thursday and Friday, under a deal struck in Switzerland last month, a senior rebel official said.  “The transaction will be executed, with God’s help, on the scheduled dates today and tomorrow,” Abdel Kader Mortaza, the rebel official in charge of prisoner affairs, said in a tweet on Thursday.  “The preparations have been completed by all parties,” he added.

The Saudi-led military coalition and Yemen’s Houthi movement agreed last month in Switzerland to exchange 1,081 prisoners, including 15 Saudis, in the largest swap of its kind in the five-year-old conflict.  In an operation managed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), three planes carrying members of the coalition freed from detention took off from the Houthi-held capital, Sanaa, a witness said.  One of the planes was carrying Saudi and Sudanese detainees and flew to Saudi Arabia. The other two flew to Sayoun airport in the government-held Hadramout region. 

ICRC spokeswoman Ruth Hetherington said more than 700 prisoners had been exchanged on Thursday on a total of seven flights. More flights are scheduled over the next two days, the agency said.  Under the deal, the Houthi group is to release around 400 people while the coalition would free 681 Houthi fighters. Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam said the swap “brings hope for peace-building”. 

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