Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

US halting refuelling of Saudi-led coalition aircraft in Yemen's war

Amid Saudi-led bombing Pompeo pins responsibility for starvation in Yemen… on Iran A woman holds her malnourished son in Sanaa Yemen
Jeannette Daniel | 10 November, 2018, 09:38

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis confirmed the decision was made in consultation with the US government.

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

The decision was made amid mounting criticism of the three-year-old Yemen conflict and Saudi-led coalition air strikes that a United Nations human rights panel said is responsible for scores of civilian deaths, often using US-supplied munitions.

On Friday, Reuters reported, citing unnamed USA 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.

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

In August this year, he warned that United States support for the coalition was "not unconditional", noting it must do "everything humanly possible to avoid any innocent loss of life".

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the country's popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.

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

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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.

Apparently in a rush to try to take Hodeida before then, coalition artillery, helicopter gunships and airstrikes have pounded the rebels, with dozens killed on both sides.

The Saudi-led coalition has been accused of targeting hospitals, water infrastructure, and other civilian targets, and raids on wedding parties and the recent bombing of a school bus have sparked global condemnation.

Mattis last month made a surprise call for a ceasefire in Yemen and urged warring parties to enter negotiations within the next 30 days.

Opposition to U.S. collaboration with the Saudi coalition in Yemen has increased following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Almost 10,000 Yemenis have been killed in the conflict since 2015, according to the World Health Organization. The death toll has not been updated in years, however, and is likely to be far higher.

The battle for Hodeida, which provides a crucial lifeline for the 14 million Yemenis - half the country's population - now at risk of starvation, has become the war's epicentre.

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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