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.

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