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American Freelance Journalist Released By Rebels In Yemen

An American freelance journalist who had been held by Houthi rebels in Yemen has been freed. The U.S. State Department says Casey Coombs is now in Oman, where he is undergoing a medical evaluation. Coombs had been reporting for The Intercept website and was one of a number of Americans being held in Yemen.

The New York Times spoke with Coombs' mother, Jill Marie Hammill:

"Ms. Hammill said she had received a call from the International Committee of the Red Cross early Monday saying that Mr. Coombs was at the Sana airport and was preparing to leave Yemen. She was able to speak to her son on Monday afternoon, after he arrived in Oman. 'I cannot describe how happy I am,' she said."

Coombs has also written for The American Prospect and Time magazine. He was living in Sanaa, Yemen's capital, when he was taken. The Associated Press reports that Coombs had been injured at some point.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf says Coombs "is in stable condition. The U.S. ambassador and a consular official met him at the airport upon his arrival and are providing all possible consular assistance."

NPR's Michele Keleman reports for the newscast unit that Harf says:

"The U.S. is working to win the release of other Americans held in Yemen. Assistant Secretary of State Anne Patterson was in Saudi Arabia and Oman recently trying to promote a peace process for Yemen. The U.S. shuttered its embassy there after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels ousted the government ... and Saudi Arabia began a bombing campaign."

The AP has this background on the fighting in Yemen:

"The Saudi-led coalition launched its air campaign on March 26 in a bid to roll back the rebels and restore to power President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled to Saudi Arabia that month in the face of a rebel advance on the south. But two months of bombing have done little to push back the Houthis and allied military units loyal to Saleh.

"The airstrikes and ground fighting have killed more than 1,000 civilians and displaced a half million people, according to the U.N."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.
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