Iranian-backed Houthi rebels detain Yemeni US embassy staff after breaching complex in Sanaa

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The State Department on Thursday called on Iranian-backed Houthi rebels to release US Yemeni embassy personnel who fighters detained in the northern city of Sanaa breached the compound in the war-torn country.

Details: A State Department spokesman in an e-mailed statement also called on the Houthis to “immediately release” the complex and “return all seized property.” Most of the detainees, who worked outside the complex with duties including security, had been released, the spokesman said.

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“We are concerned that the Yemeni personnel of the US embassy in Sanaa continue to be detained without explanation and ask for their immediate release.”

State Department spokesperson

Of note: State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a briefing when reports surfaced Tuesday about detention of embassy workers that US officials had been “relentless in our behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts to secure their release.”

The big picture: The United States operations of the embassy suspended in Yemen in February 2015, about five months after the start of civil law in progress in the country between the Houthi forces and a coalition led by the Saudis which supports President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, while the rebels have taken control of Sanaa.

  • President Biden announced in February plans to end US support for the offensive operations of the pro-Hadi coalition in Yemen in the midst of a terrible humanitarian crisis.

  • The Biden administration announced a month later that the United States would restore full humanitarian assistance funding rebel-held areas of northern Yemen to help millions of people on the brink of famine.

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