Some 128 Huthi rebels detained in Saudi Arabia were flown to the Yemeni city of Sanaa and released on Thursday, as efforts to end the five-year conflict gain momentum.

The Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen said earlier this week that it would release 200 Huthi prisoners and also allow patients needing medical care to be flown out of Sanaa airport, which has been closed to commercial flights since 2016.

Riyadh and its allies intervened in the Yemen war in March 2015 to back the internationally recognised government, shortly after the Iran-backed Huthi rebels seized Sanaa. ďThe ICRC sees the release as a positive step and hopes that it will spur further releases and repatriations of conflict-related detainees,Ē it said in a statement.

It said the Yemen Red Crescent transferred some of the released prisoners to a medical facility for check-ups. As they alighted from the plane, some of the detainees had to be helped down the steps and put in wheelchairs.

Outside the main gate of the airport, hundreds of people gathered to see the detainees and check if they were people they knew who had gone missing during the war.