U.S. Transfers 15 Guantánamo Detainees to the UAE

August 16, 2016, 9:35 AM UTC
Guantanamo Bay Facility Continues To Serve As Detention Center For War Detainees
GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - JUNE 27: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by the U.S. Military prior to transmission.) A Public Affairs Officer escorts media through the currently closed Camp X-Ray which was the first detention facility to hold 'enemy combatants' at the U.S. Naval Station on June 27, 2013 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.The U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, houses the American detention center for 'enemy combatants'. President Barack Obama has recently spoken again about closing the prison which has been used to hold prisoners from the invasion of Afghanistan and the war on terror since early 2002. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/ Getty Images

This article originally appeared on Time.com.

The United Arab Emirates received 15 detainees from Guantánamo Bay prison, Defense Department officials announced Monday, as part of an ongoing effort to downsize the facility.

There are now 61 detainees in the naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba after 12 Yemeni and three Afghan citizens were transferred Saturday, the Miami Herald reports.

“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,” said Ambassador Lee Wolosky, the State Department’s special envoy for closing the Guantanamo detention center, in statement shortly after the announcement.

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This is the single largest transfer of Guantánamo detainees during President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House, after he had planned to shutter the prison during his first year in office. In the past 11 months, the State Department has transferred 55 detainees to 13 countries.

Fewer than 50 prisoners could remain in Cuba by the end of the summer, according to the Herald, as another 20 detainees await resettlement or repatriation.

Obama issued his plan for shutting down the facility completely in February, calling for several dozen remaining prisoners to be relocated to maximum-security prions stateside, according to Reuters, but U.S. law prohibits such transfers.

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