SANAA, Yemen (AA) – Saudi Arabia said Friday its forces rescued two American women detained in the Yemeni capital Sanaa and took them to Riyadh.
In a statement by Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Turki Al-Maliki said a “special security operation” to rescue the women was successfully conducted at the request of the US.
According to Al-Maliki, the two had been detained in Sanaa during a family visit and “subjected to ill-treatment.”
“At the request of the US and through a special security operation, the two young women were freed and transferred from Sanaa to Aden (south) and then to the capital, Riyadh, by the Royal Saudi Air Force,” read the statement.
Al-Maliki noted that the operation is a testament to the “strength of bilateral relations” between Washington and Riyadh as well as the duo’s keenness to continue “military cooperation to serve common interests.”
The Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen have been in control of Sanaa and other regions since September 2014.
Coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia have been supporting the government against the Houthis since March 2015.
Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Iran-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including Sanaa.
A Saudi-led coalition aimed at reinstating the Yemeni government has worsened the situation.
Yemen is home to one of the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crises, with nearly 80% of Yemenis, or about 30 million people, needing humanitarian assistance and protection. More than 13 million are in danger of starvation, according to UN estimates.