The Pentagon announced the transfer of 15 prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention center Monday.
The release is the single largest during President Barack Obama’s time in the White House. Twelve Yemeni nationals and three Afghans have been sent to the United Arab Emirates where they will be resettled.
Six of the inmates were unanimously approved by a task force comprised of six departments and agencies. The task force did not deem continued law of war detention necessary for the remaining nine, as they are not considered a significant threat to the security of the U.S.
Gitmo, which Obama aims to close before he leaves office, now hosts 61 detainees. Out of the remaining inmates, 20 have been approved for transfer, 34 remain in detention and seven are facing criminal charges. The peak population was 684 in June 2003.
Obama released a plan for the closure of the facility in February. The plan includes transfers to maximum-security prisons across America, which U.S law prohibits.
The plans of closing Guantanamo Bay was met with opposition from Republicans.
“Having visited the prison myself, I believe Guantanamo is the best location to hold those who pose a grave threat to our nation,”Jason Chaffetz, GOP Rep. and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said of Obama’s plan in February. “The president’s alternative is dangerous and makes our country less safe. With this plan, President Obama is prioritizing politics over security.”