World

USA to stop refueling of Saudi aircraft bombing Yemen

USA to stop refueling of Saudi aircraft bombing Yemen

The Pentagon has provided refueling capabilities for about 20 percent of coalition planes flying sorties over Yemen.

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.

US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity Friday to discuss the decision before its announcement, said the end to refuelling wouldn't stop American training and military assistance.

Critics of the Saudi campaign - including Democrats who won control of the House of Representatives in elections on Tuesday - have long questioned US involvement in the war, which has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than 2 million and led to widespread starvation in Yemen since it began in 2015.

He said the ceasefire call was an attempt "to save face after the humiliation" caused by the murder of Washington Post columnist Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi policy, that has strained Riyadh's relationship with the West. The experts documented 6,475 deaths from March 2015 until last June, but said the real figure is likely to be significantly higher.

"The US will also continue working with the coalition and Yemen to minimize civilian casualties and expand urgent humanitarian efforts throughout the country", he said in a statement.

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said he supported Saudi Arabia's "decision" after the official Saudi Press Agency said the coalition asked for the "cessation of inflight refueling support" from the United States. However, Griffiths' effort to revive peace talks in September fell through after the Houthis failed to attend, arguing they didn't have guarantees for their safe return.




The move to end refuelling cooperation may be an attempt to forestall action on the arrangement that USA politicians had promised to table next week. "If there is a halt to the airstrikes, then we can proceed to political negotiations".

Yemeni pro-government forces, backed by Saudi-led coalition fighter jets and attack helicopters, have launched an offensive on the rebel-held port city of Hodeida despite warnings from aid groups that civilians are at risk. On Saturday, the sound of large explosions east and north of Hodeida rocked the city as coalition forces tried to take the town of al-Saleh northeast of the city where they are meeting stiff resistance.

Almost 10,000 people have since been killed and the country now stands at the brink of starvation.

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

The conflict has plunged Yemen into a humanitarian crisis. The Houthis have also been accused of firing Iran-made missiles into Saudi Arabia and at coalition ships. At the end of October, Mattis joined U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in calling for a ceasefire.

Pro-government forces pressed closer to the heart of Hodeida, whose port serves as the entry point for almost 80 per cent of commercial imports and almost all UN-supervised humanitarian aid. "We are now warning that by allowing this to go on, parties to the conflict and their global backers will be responsible for the death, injury and suffering of millions of people".


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