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Arab coalition hands over 27 child soldiers to Yemen government - statement

RIYADH (Reuters) - The Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen has handed over 27 child soldiers to the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the Saudi government media office said on Thursday.

The children were taken prisoner during fighting with the with the Iran-allied Houthi militia on the border of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh's Center for International Communication said, citing an unnamed official source.

"Houthi coup militias are forcing Yemeni children and youths to fight, pushing them to battlefronts and using them in failed operations," the statement said. It said that all the children were transported to Marib province in northern Yemen, which is under Yemeni government control.

Human Rights Watch had said in past reports that both sides of the Yemen conflict have deployed child soldiers.

A coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia intervened in the Yemen conflict in March 2015 when the Houthis advanced on the southern port city of Aden and forced Hadi and his government into exile in Saudi Arabia.

(Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Editing by Sami Aboudi/Mark Heinrich)

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