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Yemen rebels, govt in largest exchange of corpses: official

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Huthi rebels and Yemen’s government have exchanged the corpses of dozens of fighters, in the largest such handover since their war began more than eight years ago, a government official said on Tuesday.

The transfer took place Monday in Al-Jawf province with the help of mediation by local authorities.

“A total of 43 bodies were exchanged, including 21 belonging to the Yemeni army killed in the south of Marib more than a year ago,” the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

The bodies were buried on Tuesday in Marib, he added.

A six-month truce brokered by the United Nations expired in October last year, but fighting has largely remained on hold as diplomatic efforts to end the conflict intensified.

In April Riyadh’s ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed al-Jaber, travelled to Sanaa as part of a plan to “stabilise” the truce. Although no deal was struck, Jaber later said warring parties are serious about ending the conflict.

The Iran-backed Huthis seized Sanaa in 2014, prompting a Saudi-led military intervention months later.

Hundreds of thousands have died in the war, which triggered a major humanitarian crisis.

Marib governorate, an oil-rich region, saw some of the most bitter fighting in the past two years. The city of Marib is the last northern bastion of the government, which is now based in the southern city of Aden.

In April the rebels and government forces freed nearly 900 prisoners under a deal agreed in Switzerland.

The push for peace in Yemen appeared to be revived by a surprise rapprochement deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran announced in March.


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