ADEN, Yemen, May 18 (Xinhua) -- The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on Friday announced that they are willing to start a process of swapping prisoners with the Saudi-backed Yemeni government based in the country's southern part.
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, leader of the pro-Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said in a statement that they also talked to neutral organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and informed them of the readiness for prisoner swap.
Two days ago, the Yemeni government showed the same willingness to conduct a prisoner exchange deal with the Iranian-backed Houthis in the holy month of Ramadan.
Yemen's Minister of Information along with the country's Minister of Human Rights held a press conference at the Yemeni Embassy in Riyadh and called the ICRC to serve as an intermediary between the two-warring sides.
According to the Yemeni ministers, President Abdu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi issued his directives to the government in order to deal positively with the process of exchanging prisoners with Houthis.
There are no estimates available for the number of war prisoners and detainees held in the pro-government prisons in the southern provinces or in the prisons of the Iranian-backed Houthi authorities in Sanaa.
However, the Ministry of Human Rights based in Aden said last year that there were more than 14,000 detainees in the prisons controlled by Houthis in Sanaa and hundreds had been tortured to death.
The country's Defense Minister Major General Mahmoud Subaihi and top military leaders loyal to Hadi are still held by Houthi authorities in Sanaa since 2015.
The United Nations (UN) Security Council had demanded the release of Subaihi in a resolution that imposed an arms embargo on Yemeni rebels.
On March 26, 2015, the U.S.-backed Saudi Arabia, leading a military coalition of 10 Arab countries, intervened in the Yemeni conflict to roll back the Houthis' gains and reinstate Hadi to Sanaa.
The ongoing civil war has killed more than 10,000 Yemenis, mostly civilians, and displaced around three million others, according to UN aid agencies.
The conflict has also triggered humanitarian crisis and pushed the poor Arab country on the brink of mass famine.