Yemeni crew of Iran ‘arms’ ship freed: official

Armed followers of Yemen's Shi'ite Houthi group sit on a truck patrolling the vicinity of a ceremony attended by fellow Shi'ites in Dhahian of the northwestern Yemeni province of Saada Feb. 3.

Armed followers of Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthi group sit on a truck patrolling the vicinity of a ceremony attended by fellow Shi’ites in Dhahian of the northwestern Yemeni province of Saada Feb. 3.

Eight Yemeni sailors convicted of smuggling weapons to Shiite Houthi rebels onboard an Iranian ship have been freed thanks to mediation from Oman, a security official said.

The eight were released in Aden Thursday, two days after authorities released two Iranians held in Sanaa on charges of training Shiite rebels, the official said.

They were sentenced in November last year to jail terms ranging between one and 10 years. A ninth defendant remained at large.

Yemeni coast guard, working with U.S. Navy, had intercepted the boat, Jihan 1, in the Arabian Sea in January 2011.

A Yemeni security official said the weapons ship was headed for the Red Sea port of al-Mukha and that the arms were intended for Shiite Houthi rebels.

Yemen has freed two Iranians said to be members of the Islamic republic’s elite Revolutionary Guards who were accused of links to Shiite rebels, according to sources.

The two men were released on Wednesday thanks to mediation from the neighboring Gulf state of Oman, the Yemeni security and Arab diplomatic sources said.

The releases come after the Shiite rebels known as Houthis, or Ansarullah, seized control of much of the Yemeni capital Sanaa at the weekend following clashes with the Sunni Al-Islah (Reform) party backed by the army.

 
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