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Saudi king hosts Abu Dhabi crown prince amid Yemen offensive

11 November, 2018, 17:54 | Author: Ted Wilson
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Beyond refueling, the United States provides limited intelligence support to the Saudi-led coalition and sells it weaponry used in Yemen's war.

The United States and Britain late last month called for a ceasefire in Yemen to support U.N. -led efforts to end the almost four-year long war that has killed more than 10,000 people and triggered the world's most urgent humanitarian crisis.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said early Saturday it had "requested cessation of inflight refueling" by the US for its fighter jets after American officials said they would stop the operations amid growing anger over civilian casualties from the kingdom's airstrikes. A coordinated decision by Washington and Riyadh to halt the refueling could be an attempt by both countries to forestall further action by Congress.

USA officials told Reuters only a fifth of Saudi-led coalition aircraft require in-air refuelling from the United States.

"Recently the Kingdom and the coalition has increased its capability to independently conduct inflight refueling in Yemen", the SPA said.

Still, a halt to refueling could by itself have little practical effect on the war.

Meanwhile, intense fighting near the Red Sea port city of Hodeida continued over the weekend, with stepped up airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition pounding Houthi positions.

The Pentagon would not confirm the Post's story.

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for an immediate end to the military escalation in Yemen.

As a result, the decision to halt the US refueling will likely have little impact on the fight, but will allow the Trump administration to say it has taken action against the Saudis for the devastation in Yemen.

The Iran-backed rebels said their fighters had cut off government supply routes in four sectors of Hodeida province, although there was no confirmation from the loyalist side. More than 400 combatants have been killed in 10 days of clashes in the city.

Saudi strikes have hit public markets, hospitals and other nonmilitary targets, killing scores of civilians. Mattis said the United States would play a continuing role to help the Saudi-led coalition and Yemeni forces minimize civilian casualties and expand humanitarian efforts.

U.S. defense secretary Jim Mattis backed the decision and said the USA government was consulted.

The coalition's request came amid the backdrop of USA media reports that Washington planned to cease its refuelling support to the coalition amid mounting criticism of the devastating Yemeni conflict, raging since 2015, and the killing of Saudi opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey.

The conflict has triggered what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 14 million Yemenis facing mass starvation. The Yemeni government blamed the group for trying to sabotage the talks.

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