Two American citizens held hostage for months by Houthi rebels in Yemen were reportedly released Sunday. The men, identified as Scott Darden and Sam Farran, were freed with the help of the sultan of Oman and flown to Muscat, the Washington Post reported. Their conditions were not released.
Various media outlets initially reported Darden and Farran were among six foreign hostages freed Sunday by the Houthis, a Shiite group that took over the capital of Sanaa last year. Two were said to be from Saudi Arabia, one from the United Kingdom and three from the United States. But an anonymous White House official told CNN the third American remained in custody while a Houthi spokesman would not confirm the release of any hostages.
"If we were to release anyone, it would be in exchange for the release of Houthis," Mohammed Abdel Salam told the Associated Press.
Darden, a 45-year-old who worked for a logistics firm centered in Louisiana, and Farran, a 54-year-old from Michigan who worked in security, were in Yemen in March when a Saudi Arabia-led coalition began conducting airstrikes. They were attempting to flee when they were arrested as was an unnamed third American.
“Since we first learned of their detention, the United States government has been in regular contact with their families and representatives and, in coordination with our international partners, we have worked tirelessly to secure their release,” National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement Sunday, praising the Omani government for its help. “This outcome underscores that we have been and will continue to be tireless in pursuing the release of all Americans detained abroad unjustly, including those who remain in the region.”
Reuters reported Houthi officials flew with the hostages to Oman where they were scheduled to see United Nations envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to discuss possible peace talks.