Pentagon backs Saudi decision to refuel aircraft on its own
US Secretary of Defence James Mattis announced the Pentagon backed Saudi Arabia’s decision to use the Saudi-led coalition’s own military capabilities to refuel aircraft engaged in Yemen.
“We support the decision by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, after consultations with the US government, to use the coalition’s own military capabilities to conduct inflight refuelling in support of its operations in Yemen,” Mattis said in a statement released on Friday night.
Saudi Arabia has decided to request an end to US aerial refuelling for its operations in Yemen since the Kingdom can now manage this by itself, a statement released by Saudi Arabia earlier in the day said.
The Saudi statement came hours after the US media reported that the Trump administration had decided to end the air refuelling flights, a decision originally expected to be announced in the coming days, reports Xinhua news agency.
The Saudi move came amid an ongoing investigation on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which has stirred international society and drawn criticism from US lawmakers who threatened to take action next week over the refuelling operations.
Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab military coalition that intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to support the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after Houthi rebels forced him into exile. The Pentagon was refuelling about 20% of coalition planes flying sorties over Yemen. The White House, in a statement late on Friday, declared emergency in California as the death toll in a fast-moving wildfire rose to nine.
Quoting sources, the statement also permitted the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide all disaster relief efforts and necessary support needed by the US state authorities in coping with the wildfires, reported.
“Today, President Trump declared an emergency exists in the State of California and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from wildfires beginning on November 8, 2018, and continuing,” the White House statement read.
The fast-moving wildfire, especially in California’s Butte County region, has led Sputnik to the displacement of nearly 52,000 people. The fire has also reportedly destroyed over 6,000 houses in the area.
Many Hollywood stars including Kim Kardashian West, Alyssa Milano, Lady Gaga and Caitlyn Jenner have been forced to vacate their homes due to the fire that has also started threatening areas around the Los Angeles County, Malibu and the regions around the Pacific Ocean in the West, prompting more evacuations in days to come.
Government spokeswoman Jumana Ghuneimat and Civil Defence officials say the toll rose on Saturday, after another body was found in Madaba south of Amman. They said searches for the missing are continuing. Friday’s floods came two weeks after flash floods near the Dead Sea killed 21 people, most of them children.
Firefighters battle flames in an apartment complex in Paradise, north of Sacramento, California.