The United States has said it will return two Algerians detained at Guantanamo Bay to their homeland, as part of efforts authorities say will eventually close the military prison.

"The United States remains determined to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay," the White House said in a statement said Friday.

"In support of those efforts, today the Department of Defence certified to Congress its intent to repatriate an additional two detainees to Algeria.

"We are taking this step in consultation with the Congress, and in a responsible manner that protects our national security," it said.

It did not identify the two inmates.

At least 12 Algerians held at Guantanamo, a US naval base in Cuba, have been repatriated.

A Pentagon spokesman said officials had carefully examined the two cases before Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel gave a green light for the release.

President Barack Obama vowed to close the facility when he first took office in 2009, but four years on the military prison set up in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks still holds 166 men.

The vast majority of those held at Guantanamo, detained on Afghan battlefields or handed over by other countries, have never been charged or tried, and dozens have been taking part in a hunger strike in recent months.

Source: Agencies