Iran-backed Houthi Rebels storm US embassy in Yemen and seize at least 25 hostages and files: State Department demands release of staff
- Iran-backed Houthi fighters kidnapped at least 25 people linked to the United States embassy in Yemen, according to local reports from the region
- The State Department told DailyMail.com that a majority have been set free but that the US ‘has been unceasing in its diplomatic efforts’ to rescue the rest
- Houthi rebels took ‘large quantities of equipment’ from the embassy in Sana’a
- The compound was shut down in 2015 over security concerns but it appears that Yemeni security forces were still on the ground guarding it
- Since then fighting has continued into its seventh year, killing thousands
The US embassy compound in Yemen has been overrun by Iran-backed Houthi rebels who also took a number of Yemeni employees there hostage, the State Department confirmed on Thursday.
Biden administration officials are demanding the insurgents release all the staff they took prisoner there as well as the equipment they took and that they vacate the property immediately.
‘We are concerned that Yemeni staff of the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a continue to be detained without explanation and we call for their immediate release. The United States has been unceasing in its diplomatic efforts to secure their release,’ a State Department spokesperson told DailyMail.com.
The official said the majority of them have already been set free but that ‘the Houthis continue to detain additional Yemeni employees of the Embassy.’
‘We are also concerned about the breach of the compound that had been used by our Embassy prior to our suspension of operations in 2015. We call on the Houthis to immediately vacate it and return all seized property,’ they said.
‘The U.S. government will continue its diplomatic efforts to secure the release of our staff and the vacating of our compound, including through our international partners.’
Middle Eastern outlets first reported that three Yemeni nationals linked to the US embassy were taken from one of their homes in Sana’a on November 5, according to a translation from the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Twenty-two employees of the US Embassy in Yemen (pictured), mostly security forces, were kidnapped by Houthi rebels this month. The embassy has been shut since 2015 over security concerns as the country was just beginning to plunge into a devastating civil war
A man holds stands near a machine gun on a vehicle as Houthi rebels and their supporters gather for a celebration marking the anniversary of the birth of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in Sana’a last month
Houthi rebels and their supporters hold flags and posters of Shiite Houthi movement’s leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi during the celebration
Three weeks prior 22 people who primarily ‘worked on the security staff guarding the embassy grounds’ were also kidnapped.
On Wednesday Houthi rebels took ‘large quantities of equipment and materials’ from the embassy, MEMRI’s translation of independent Yemeni media reports claim.
State Department spokesman Ned Price briefly addressed the ongoing hostage situation in a briefing earlier this week, before officials confirmed their rescue efforts.
‘We are extremely concerned by reports of detentions of some of our local Yemeni employees in Sana’a, and we call for their immediate release,’ Price said. ‘We have been unceasing in our behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts to secure their release.’
‘We’ve seen some progress and we’re continuing to work this critical issue. The majority of those who have been detained are no longer in custody.
‘We are committed to ensuring the safety of those who serve the U.S. Government overseas, and that is why we are so actively engaged on this matter, including through our international partners.’
According to the regional reports, three of the hostages are a former embassy employee who worked for the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative, an economic official there and an employee of the United States Agency for International Development.
A Yemeni pro-government fighter is pictured during fighting with Huthi rebels on the south frontline of Marib, the last remaining government stronghold in northern Yemen, on November 10
The US Embassy in Yemen was shut in 2015 over the unpredictable security situation in the conflict-ridden country.
Since then US diplomacy for the region has been conducted out of the Yemen Affairs Unit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
DailyMail.com has reached out to the Yemeni embassy in Washington, DC for comment.
The ongoing conflict in Yemen, now in its seventh year, pushed the small nation into a humanitarian crisis that has cost tens of thousands of lives and forced millions of people onto the brink of starvation.
The coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) intervened in 2015 after Iran-backed Shi’ite Muslim Houthi forces ousted the internationally recognized government from the capital city of Sana’a.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was in power for more than two decades, saw his dictatorial regime toppled in 2012 during the Arab Spring protests.
He then sided with the Houthi rebels who ousted the country’s democratic government before being killed by the same insurgents who accused him of being a traitor.
The last remaining government stronghold, Marib in northern Yemen, has been roiled by conflict that killed 28 fighters from the pro-government Obaida tribe and seven government forces over the 24-hour period ending on Wednesday.