John Kerry says Yemen's Houthi rebels released two US citizens on Saturday, the AP reports. The US Secretary of State said the unidentified Americans were freed as part of a complicated diplomatic arrangement that included airlifts for Yemenis wounded by an airstrike this past week carried out by a Saudi-led coalition. Kerry said the US has been working on such efforts for the past few days, alongside a push for a cease-fire in Yemen that would allow the country's internationally recognized government and the Iran-backed Houthis to return to negotiations. The state-run Oman News Agency said two Americans "held" in Yemen were released and flown to the sultanate following negotiations between Omani officials and "Yemeni authorities" in the capital, Sanaa, which is controlled by the Houthis and their allies.
Kerry said the US was "very pleased" with the release of the two Americans and was working to resolve other hostage situations in Yemen and elsewhere. Yemen's war pits the government against the Shiite Houthi rebels and allied army units loyal to a former president. A Saudi-led coalition has been intervening on the side of the government since March 2015. After peace talks broke down two months ago, the Saudi-led and US-backed coalition stepped up airstrikes and forced the closure of Sanaa's international airport. Negotiators representing the Houthis and their allies ended up stranded in Oman, but were allowed to return to Yemen under the latest deal. (Read more Yemen stories.)