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Official says Yemeni pilgrims depart Sanaa on first direct flight to Saudi Arabia since 2016

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A Yemeni official says a business flight carrying greater than 270 Yemeni Muslim pilgrims has left the rebel-held capital of Sanaa to Saudi Arabia, the primary such flight in about seven years

ByAHMED AL-HAJ Related Press

It is a locator map for Yemen with its capital, Sanaa. (AP Picture)

The Related Press

SANAA, Yemen — A business flight carrying greater than 270 Yemeni Muslim pilgrims left the rebel-held capital of Sanaa on Saturday to Saudi Arabia, an official stated, the primary such flight in about seven years.

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The flight by Yemen’s nationwide service Yemenia — often known as Yemen Airways — took off from Sanaa’s worldwide airport at 8 p.m. native time, heading to the Saudi coastal metropolis of Jeddah, Khalid al-Shayyef, head of the Yemeni airport, stated.

He advised The Related Press the flight was the primary of 5 that might switch this 12 months’s Muslim pilgrims from Sanaa to Saudi Arabia for hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca required as soon as in a lifetime of each Muslim who can afford it and is bodily in a position to make it.

Together with Sunday’s flight, two extra have been scheduled for Monday and Wednesday, whereas Houthi and Saudi officers had been engaged on scheduling two extra flights, he stated.

Yemen’s capital has been beneath the management of the Iran-backed Houthis since they descended from their northern stronghold in 2014 and eliminated the internationally acknowledged authorities. The Houthi takeover prompted a Saudi-led coalition to intervene in 2015 to attempt to restore the federal government. The coalition closed off the Sanaa airport in Aug. 2016, a part of an air and sea blockade on Houthi-held areas in Yemen.

Tens of millions of Muslims from all over the world will begin converging subsequent week on Mecca in Saudi Arabia to start the a number of days of rituals at holy websites in and across the metropolis.

The flights between Sanaa and Saudi Arabia are one other signal of easing tensions between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia, which has been making an attempt to finish its involvement in nation’s battle.

Saudi and Houthi officers have repeatedly met for talks geared toward a negotiated settlement to the battle. Such talks gained momentum earlier this 12 months when Saudi Arabia and Iran, the principle international backer of the Houthis, reached an settlement to revive diplomatic ties after years of frayed relations.

The Yemen battle has in recent times become a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It has wrecked Yemen, already the Arab poorest nation, and created one of many world’s worst humanitarian disasters. Greater than 150,000 folks, together with fighters and civilians, have been killed.

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