ADEN (Dispatches) – Yemen’s former regime mercenaries and the opposition Southern Transitional Council (STC) have started exchanging 53 prisoners under a Saudi-brokered deal in the south of the country.
The prisoner swap deal was signed between the two Yemeni warring rivals in the Saudi capital Riyadh last November, a local military official said on condition of anonymity.
"Nearly 33 prisoners of the STC were released from the government’s jails in Shabwa Province. In exchange, 20 prisoners affiliated with the government were also released from the STC’s jails,” the source noted.
All these prisoners were received by the forces of the Saudi-led Arab coalition operating in Yemen, according to the official.
On Thursday, also supervised by Saudi Arabia, the Yemeni former regime signed an agreement with the STC about the mechanism of mutual troops withdrawal from the country’s southern turbulent region.
The new agreement specified 20 days, starting Jan. 11, for the withdrawal of all the STC’s military units and the former regime forces stationed in the country’s southern regions, including Abyan and Shabwa, according to the Yemeni source.
Last year, Saudi Arabia persuaded the STC and the Yemeni former regime to hold reconciliation talks, which succeeded in reaching a deal to form a new technocrat cabinet of no more than 24 ministers.
But numerous obstacles prevented the implementation of the deal.