Oman’s Foreign Ministry today announced that two Americans, three Saudis and a British hostage were released.
Saudi-led coalition airstrikes against Yemen’s Shi’ite rebels and their allies have killed 29 people, including civilians, in the capital, Sana’a, security and medical officials said Saturday. The United States had hoped to secure the freedom of all the Americans, officials said, but the Shiite rebels decided to continue holding a 35-year-old American Muslim convert for reasons that remain unclear.
Anti-rebel militia fighters have refused to surrender their weapons to civil police, which is understaffed and not trained for full-scale combat, arguing that it would leave them all defenseless in the face of al-Qaida militants and other extremists, officials from both sides said.
Yemen’s Houthis flew two USA citizens and one Briton they held for several months to Oman on Sunday, sources in the group said, in what appears as a goodwill gesture ahead of talks with the United Nations on efforts to end almost six months of fighting.
“I just received a phone call from my husband who sounds elated and overjoyed to be in Oman”, Darden’s wife Diana Loesch told CNN before heading to Muscat to meet him.
All officials and witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief reporters.
Government spokesman Rajeh Badi said Bahah, who is also vice president, was accompanied by seven ministers when he arrived in Aden, which loyalist fighters backed by Saudi-led troops recaptured from Iranian-allied Houthi forces in July. In June, the Houthis released freelance American journalist Casey Coombs following negotiations also facilitated in part by Oman.
The airstrikes also hit the Yemeni Interior Ministry building and the Omani ambassador’s home in Sanaa.
The company’s CEO, Gregory Rusovich, said in a statement: “We can not begin to express the sense of joy and relief we feel with Scott’s release”.
Darden had been helping oversee the transport of humanitarian supplies in Yemen for New Orleans-based Transoceanic Development, which confirmed his release.