Pen­tagon backs Saudi de­ci­sion to re­fuel air­craft on its own

The Free Press Journal - - WORLD -

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.

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