Arab Coalition ends United States refueling deal in Yemen

Arab Coalition ends United States refueling deal in Yemen

Arab Coalition ends United States refueling deal in Yemen

Saudi Arabia, in a statement released by its embassy in Washington, said it had made a decision to request an end to United States aerial refueling for its operations in Yemen because it could now handle it by itself.

The decision by the pull out also comes amid outrage by USA lawmakers from both political parties over the October 2 killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

US Representative Ro Khanna, an advocate of barring US military support to the Saudi war on Yemen, has reportedly introduced a measure in the House to ensure the Trump administration follows through on its decision.

"I call upon all free men ... to head to the fronts to defend the port city", he said in a speech aired by the Houthi-run Al Masirah satellite TV channel.

"From everything that I've understood, from activists on the ground, from people who are briefed on policy, the war could not continue without the assistance of USA refueling", he said.

The killing of Khashoggi triggered an escalation of criticism against Saudi authorities.

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The move to end refuelling cooperation may be an attempt to forestall action on the arrangement that United States politicians had promised to table next week.

Senators Todd Young, a Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, had warned the Trump administration was running out of time to act. - 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. "As a result, in consultation with the United States, the Coalition has requested the cessation of inflight refuelling support for its operations in Yemen", it said in a statement.

Mr Mattis said the United States would play a continuing role to help the Saudi-led coalition and Yemeni forces minimise civilian casualties and expand humanitarian efforts.

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

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

Mattis argued that halting USA military support could increase civilian casualties, since USA refueling had given pilots more time to select their targets.

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He told them cutting off support could jeopardise cooperation on counter-terrorism and reduce American influence with Saudi Arabia. The Houthis have also been accused of firing Iran-made missiles into Saudi Arabia and at coalition ships.

A halt to refueling could have little practical effect on the war.

Saudi Arabia has been paying the USA for the refueling, but there were no details on how much that cost.

In recent weeks, Mattis has appeared to voice a growing sense of urgency toward ending the conflict.

"The longer-term solution, and by longer term I mean 30 days from now, we want to see everybody sitting around the table, based on a cease-fire, based on a pullback from the border, and then based on ceasing dropping of bombs", Mattis said, adding that Griffiths "knows what he's doing" and was attempting "to get them together in Sweden and end this war".

According to the United Nations, some 14 million Yemeni people - fully half the country's population - are dependent on food aid for their survival, and more than 400,000 children are suffering from serious malnutrition.

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