The US has moved to delist Yemen's Houthi rebels as a terrorist organization, removing a block that humanitarian groups said jeopardized crucial aid as the country's warring sides cautiously welcomed a push for peace by President Joe Biden.
The grinding six-year war in Yemen has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions, triggering what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian disaster.
A State Department spokesperson said Friday they had "formally notified Congress" of Secretary of State Antony Blinken's intent to revoke the terrorist designations.
The move, which will take effect shortly, comes a day after Biden announced an end to US support for the offensive operations in Yemen.
"This decision has nothing to do with our view of the Houthis and their reprehensible conduct, including attacks against civilians and the kidnapping of American citizens," the spokesperson said.
"Our action is due entirely to the humanitarian consequences of this last-minute designation from the prior administration," they said, adding the US remained committed to helping Saudi Arabia defend its territory against attacks by the rebels.
Blinken's predecessor Mike Pompeo announced the designation days before leaving office last month, pointing to the Houthis' links to Iran, an arch-enemy of Trump, and a deadly attack on the airport in Yemen's second city of Aden in December.
Aid groups say they have no choice but to deal with the Houthis, who are the de facto government in much of Yemen, and that the terrorist designation would put them at risk of prosecution in the United States.
According to the UN, more than three million people have been displaced and close to 80 percent of Yemen's population of 29 million people need of some form of aid for survival.
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