Yemen Frees Iran 'Guards' Accused of Links to Shiite 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.

It came after the Shiite rebels known as Huthis, 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.

Following their release, the two Iranian men boarded an Omani aircraft at Sanaa International Airport and were flown to the neighboring sultanate, the sources said.

The pair were arrested earlier this year at Sanaa airport while trying to leave the country after what a Yemeni security source said was a mission to train Huthi fighters in their northern stronghold.

Three other Iranians with the same profile who were arrested in Amran, north of Sanaa, remain in custody, the sources said, adding they had been moved to southern Yemen prior to the Shiite rebel advance on the capital.

The reported arrests appear to support claims by the Yemeni authorities that Iran has been backing the Shiite rebels, who are alleged to be influenced by Lebanon's Hizbullah.

Oman, which enjoys good relations with Iran, hosted secret talks between Tehran and Washington ahead of the signing in November of a breakthrough interim accord between world powers and the Islamic republic on its nuclear program.

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