United States ends Saudi-UAE mid-air refuelling support in Yemen war

Remigio Civitarese
Novembre 10, 2018

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis expressed his country's support for the Saudi decision and suggested a continuing role for the US in Yemen with regard to helping coalition forces minimise civilian casualities and expanding humanitarian efforts.

The announcement came amid worldwide outrage over Riyadh's killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in October, though Norway did not mention the murder specifically.

The United States is halting refuelling of aircraft from the Saudi-led coalition engaged in Yemen, ending one of the most divisive aspects of U.S. assistance to the Saudi war effort.

"I've been calling for this for over three years", said Representative Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California. - Witnesses said the airstrike took place just before sunset as people prepared to break the dawn-to-dusk Islamic fast of Ramadan, and it was not immediately clear who had carried out the strike.

Earlier in the day, Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Todd Young called on President Donald Trump to halt USA refueling of Saudi coalition planes in Yemen until Riyadh makes a good faith effort to end civilian casualties.

Aid groups warned of the plight of civilians in Yemen's contested Hudaida where casualties are mounting as the Saudi-led coalition are fighting to take the port city from the country's Shia rebels.

The coalition is supporting the Yemeni troops on the ground with fighter jets and Apache attack helicopters, he told AFP.

The move is "based on the efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the member countries of the Alliance for the Support of Legitimacy in Yemen, to work continuously on developing their military capabilities and enhancing their self-reliance", the statement said.

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.

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

Mr Mattis also argued it would embolden the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, who have fired missiles at Saudi Arabia and targeted commercial and military vessels off Yemen's coast.

The Saudi press agency said: "Recently the Kingdom and the coalition has increased its capability to independently conduct inflight refueling in Yemen".

The United Nations has now pushed that deadline back to the end of the year.

A pro-government military source said that loyalists backed by a Saudi-led coalition made "limited advances" towards the city and its Red Sea port, through which more than 70 percent of the impoverished country's imports pass.

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