USA to stop refueling planes in Yemen war

Nellie Chapman
November 10, 2018

In Friday's statement, he said, "The US will also continue working with the Coalition and Yemen to minimize civilian casualties and expand urgent humanitarian efforts throughout the country".

"As a result, in consultation with the United States, the coalition has requested cessation of support for it's operations in Yemen", the SPA said.

The move comes amid an ongoing worldwide outcry over Saudi actions in Yemen, particularly after a string of high-profile coalition strikes that have killed scores of civilians, many of them children.

Miliband was referring to US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's call on all participants in the Yemen civil war to agree to a ceasefire "in the next 30 days", last month.

On Friday, Reuters reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials, that Washington considering ending the refueling of coalition aircraft in Yemen, citing both the coalition's own increased capabilities and growing global outrage over the human consequences of the war in Yemen.

Earlier this year, Mr Mattis had defended USA military support to Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen, when politicians considered forcing the Pentagon to end Washington's involvement.

Saudi Arabia has a fleet of 23 planes for refuelling operations, including six Airbus 330 MRTT used for Yemen, while the United Arab Emirates has six of the Airbus planes, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya al-Hadath channel reported on Saturday.

The United States effectively gave a green light to the Saudi-led offensive when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on September 12 certified continued American support for the coalition's air campaign against the Houthis.

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Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the conflict between embattled Yemeni President, Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, whose government is recognised by the United Nations, and the Huthis in 2015.

Their chief has vowed his troops would never surrender despite being vastly outnumbered, shelled government positions in the south of the Red Sea city, loyalist officials said.

In the past 24 hours, 27 Iran-backed Houthi rebels and 12 pro-government fighters have been killed on the outskirts of Hodeidah city, a medical source told AFP on Wednesday.

The Saudi statement on Saturday said the kingdom hoped the upcoming UN-sponsored talks "in a third country" - which have since been delayed till the end of the year - would help end the war.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has attracted the ire of United States lawmakers in the wake of the October 2 killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of the crown prince, inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

According to the United Nations, at least 10,000 people have been killed since the coalition entered the conflict. Human rights groups say the real death toll may be five times higher.

The World Food Programme said on Thursday it planned to double food assistance for Yemen, aiming to reach up to 14 million people "to avert mass starvation".

The US sees Saudi Arabia as a key ally, especially in terms of providing a counter to Iranian influence in the region.

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