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Fifteen Guantanamo Detainees Sent To U.A.E.

Chain link fence and concertina wire surrounds a deserted guard tower within Joint Task Force Guantanamo's Camp Delta at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, March 2016.

Fifteen prisoners formerly held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been sent to the United Arab Emirates.

The transfer of the 12 Yemeni nationals and three Afghans on August 15 was the largest single release of Guantanamo prisoners since U.S. President Barack Obama took office on a promise to close the controversial facility.

The State Department special envoy for the closure of the Guantanamo detention center, Lee Wolosky, expressed U.S. gratitude to the U.A.E. for accepting the released prisoners.

“The continued operation of the detention facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists,” Wolosky said.

The Pentagon says there are still 61 detainees at Guantanamo. The detention center was opened in 2002 under U.S President George W. Bush to hold people suspected of links to the Taliban or Al-Qaeda.

Based on reporting by Reuters, dpa, and AP