Two American hostages and the remains of a third were released by Yemen as part of a deal that also secured the release of more than 200 Houthis prisoners in Oman, a top US official confirmed Tuesday.
National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien identified the freed US nationals as humanitarian worker Sandra Loli who was held by the Houthis for three years, and Mikael Gidada, a US businessman held for a year.
The body of Bilal Fateen, who was also held by the group, is also being returned.
“We extend our sincerest thanks to Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman and King Salman of Saudi Arabia for their efforts to secure the release of our citizens,” O’Brien said in a statement. “President Trump continues to prioritize securing the release and repatriation of Americans held hostage abroad.”
The exchange was first reported by the Wall Street Journal newspaper.
The agreement was backed by the US, but Saudi Arabia expressed concern that the release of Houthi fighters would replenish their ranks on the battlefield, in particular about three dozen who had received specialized training in Iran in drone warfare and ballistic missiles, according to the Journal.