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article imageWounded rebels evacuated from Yemen on UN charter flight

By AFP     Dec 3, 2018 in World

Wounded Yemeni rebels were flown out of Sanaa on a UN charter flight Monday for medical treatment in Oman, an airport source told AFP, a critical step towards planned peace talks.

The source said the flight had taken off at 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) carrying 50 wounded rebels, their escorts and a team of doctors.

A UN source confirmed that wounded rebels had been evacuated from the Yemeni capital in what was a "confidence-building measure" aimed at pushing ahead with negotiations between Huthi rebels and a rival Saudi-led military coalition this month.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths landed in Sanaa on Monday for talks with the rebels.

The fate of wounded Huthis had been a stumbling block to the start of a previous round of aborted peace talks in Geneva in September, when the rebel delegation refused to leave Sanaa for the scheduled negotiations.

The Huthis, who are linked to Iran, have said they will now attend the talks in Sweden if they are guaranteed safe passage.

The United Nations has described Yemen as the world's worst humanitarian disaster, with at least 10,000 people killed since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in 2015 to bolster the embattled government.

Rights groups fear the actual toll is far higher.

The war and failing economy have pushed 14 million people, roughly half of Yemen's population, to the brink of famine.

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