January 25, 2018 / 5:22 PM / 6 months ago

Yemen Houthis free detained U.S. citizen, send him to Oman - local sources

DUBAI (Reuters) - A U.S. citizen held by Yemen’s Houthi group since September last year has been released and taken to Oman aboard a flight that also carried a senior leader of the Iran-aligned group, sources in Sanaa said on Thursday.

Danny Lavon Burch, who works for the Yemeni Safer oil company and is married to a Yemeni citizen, was detained in Sanaa after taking his children to school, according to two colleagues.

Sources at former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s General People’s Congress party in Sanaa said Burch was accompanied to Muscat by Mohammed Abdel-Salam, a senior Houthi leader.

Abdel-Salam led Houthi negotiators in failed peace talks with representatives of the internationally-recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, according to the report which was confirmed by a source close to the Houthis.

A Houthi spokesman could not immediately be reached for a comment on the report and U.S. officials were also not available for comment.

Yemeni officials said this week that Houthis officials were due in Muscat soon for a fresh bid to try to restart U.N.-sponsored peace talks held in Kuwait in 2016 but ended without an agreement.

Hadi’s government, backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition, have been fighting the Houthis who had seized most of northern Yemen in a series of military operations that began in 2014, but little territory has changed hands since then.

Writing by Sami Aboudi, editing by Richard Balmforth

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