Yemeni rebels hand 31 child soldiers to ICRC

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Sanaa, Aug 20 (IANS) Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Sunday handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 31 child soldiers whom the Houthis claimed to have been arrested during the battles, the Houthi-controlled state Saba news agency reported.

According to Saba, the child soldiers have been “recruited by the aggression forces,” in reference to the internationally-recognized government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition, Xinhua reported.

The handover took place at the Houthi-controlled Human Rights Ministry. Representatives of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also attended the handover, according to the report.

Officials from the ICRC and UNICEF did not immediately answer Xinhua’s calls seeking comments over the handover.

There have been no comments yet from the Yemeni government, which is based in the southern port city of Aden.

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The Yemeni warring forces, which have frequently exchanged prisoners, are set to attend a UN-brokered talk in Geneva next month to negotiate an end to the civil war.

Yemen has been locked in a civil war since the Houthi rebels overran much of the country and seized all northern provinces in late 2014, including the capital Sanaa.

Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab military coalition that intervened in the Yemeni war in 2015 to support the government of exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

More than 10,000 Yemenis, mostly civilians, have been killed in the war, with about 3 million others displaced.

–IANS

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