Presidential Secretary Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that President Donald Trump has released two American hostages abducted by Houthis in Yemen.
He tweeted, “We join all Americans in welcoming their newly regained freedom.”
According to the White House, the remains of two Americans, Sandra Loli and Mikel Gidada, and a third, Bilal Faten, were released from Oman in exchange for the return of about 250 of the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
Oman’s state news says American hostages were flown out of Yemen on an Oman plane. It said 250 “Yemeni brothers” receiving treatment in Oman had returned to the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, on two flights as part of the exchange.
Kerry Ramsey, director of the administration’s Mortgage Recovery Cell, said Loli and Gidda would return to the United States soon.
“Tragically, one of these Americans died during their illegal captivity.”
Kush Patel, Trump’s deputy aide working on the deal, told the Wall Street Journal that Loli had been held captive by Houthis for nearly three years and held Gidada hostage for about a year.
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Yemen plunged into chaos and civil war in 2014 when Yahoo took over Sanaa from an internationally recognized government. The Saudi-led coalition, which is allied with the government, has been fighting weapons since March 2015. The war has left millions without food and proper medical care and has killed more than 112,000 people.
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The U.N. between Houthis and the internationally recognized government. The release of the Americans came just a day before the planned exchange of more than 1,000 prisoners a day. The UN said in September that the two warring parties had agreed to exchange prisoners of war, including Saudi and Sudanese troops, fighting alongside the Saudi-led coalition.
The Associated Press contributes to this report.