The conflict in Yemen isn't just 'over there' and increasingly involving American as four citizens are being held by Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, a senior defense official confirmed Sunday. The rebels, backed by U.S. enemy Iran, toppled the U.S.-backed government earlier this year. The conflict is now a proxy war, between Saudi backed government forces and Iranian backed Houthi rebels.
The defense department released a statement early on Sunday that said it was "doing everything we can to get these individuals released." The department would not release personal information about those being held due to privacy concerns.
Thus far, according to reports leaked to The Washington Post, attempts to free them have failed. The four are imprisoned in the Yemen capital of Sana'a, which Saudi Arabia is constantly bombing in a campaign to oust the Houthi rebels from power..
There was a provisional agreement to release one of the prisoners, but senior members of the rebel forces reversed the decision over the weekend.
Three of the four prisoners worked in the private sector and a fourth holds dual American-Yemeni citizenship. None of the prisoners were government employees.
The latest captures bring the total American hostages to five as another American, Sharif Mobley, is also being held by the rebels. He’s been imprisoned for over five years on terrorism-related charges brought by the previous government.
The recently detained captives are among dozens of Americans who were unable to leave Yemen after the U.S. closed its embassy.