Iran-backed Houthi militants detain dozens of Yemeni nationals working for U.S.

The group, designated by Trump administration as terrorist organization, also raided U.S. embassy in Yemen, closed in 2015

Updated: November 12, 2021 - 10:25am

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An Islamic extremist group has in the past few weeks taken into custody dozens of Yemenis working for the United States including some who work for the U.S. embassy. 

A State Department spokesperson says hostages taken by the Iran-backed Houthi extremists have been released but some embassy staff "continue to be detained without explanation."

The group earlier this week also raided the compound for the U.S. embassy in Yemen, which was closed in 2015, taking hostages and equipment.

Under the Trump administration, the Houthis were designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization, a classification that was reversed when the Biden administration came to power. 

Bloomberg reports some of those taken hostage worked for the United States Agency for International Development.

According to a report from the Middle East Media Research Institute, the raid occurred less than a week after Houthis kidnapped Yemeni nationals working for the U.S. embassy, including from one employee's private residence.

According to the institute, most of the kidnapped Yemenis "worked on the security staff guarding the embassy grounds."

A State Department spokesperson 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."

The spokesperson also said the U.S. is calling on the "Houthis to immediately vacate it (the embassy) and return all seized property."

The Houthis have received significant and ongoing training and military equipment from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.