Saudi coali­tion halts re­fu­el­ing deal with US for Ye­men war

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - WORLD -

DUBAI: A con­tro­ver­sial re­fu­el­ing ar­range­ment be­tween the United States and the Saudi-led coali­tion that is bomb­ing Ye­men was ended yes­ter­day, halt­ing a key part of Wash­ing­ton’s in­volve­ment in the con­flict.

The move came as war­planes pounded the key strate­gic port city of Hodeida and af­ter Wash­ing­ton’s sup­port for the cam­paign was placed un­der in­creased scru­tiny fol­low­ing the brazen mur­der of dis­si­dent jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi by a Saudi in­tel­li­gence team.

Pen­tagon chief Jim Mat­tis said he sup­ported Saudi Ara­bia’s ‘de­ci­sion’ af­ter the of­fi­cial Saudi Press Agency said the coali­tion asked for the ‘ces­sa­tion of in­flight re­fu­el­ing sup­port’ from the United States.

Riyadh’s grind­ing war in Ye­men as caused grow­ing in­ter­na­tional out­cry, par­tic­u­larly af­ter a string of high-pro­file coali­tion strikes that have killed scores of civil­ians, many of them chil­dren.

“Re­cently the King­dom and the coali­tion has in­creased its ca­pa­bil­ity to in­de­pen­dently con­duct in­flight re­fu­el­ing in

Re­cently the King­dom and the coali­tion has in­creased its ca­pa­bil­ity to in­de­pen­dently con­duct in­flight re­fu­el­ing in Ye­men. — Saudi Press Agency

Ye­men,” the SPA said.

“As a re­sult, in con­sul­ta­tion with the United States, the coali­tion has re­quested ces­sa­tion of in­flight re­fu­el­ing sup­port for its op­er­a­tions in Ye­men.”

Mat­tis said: “We sup­port the de­ci­sion by the King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia.”

In Au­gust the de­fence sec­re­tary warned that US sup­port for the coali­tion was ‘not un­con­di­tional,’ not­ing it must do ‘ev­ery­thing hu­manly pos­si­ble to avoid any in­no­cent loss of life.’

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

Saudi Ara­bia and its al­lies in­ter­vened in the con­flict be­tween em­bat­tled Ye­meni Pres­i­dent Abedrabbo Man­sour Hadi, whose gov­ern­ment is recog­nised by the United Na­tions, and the Huthis in 2015.

The Shi­ite Huthi rebels launched fierce bar­rages of mor­tar fire as they bat­tled to slow an ad­vance by pro­gov­ern­ment forces deeper into the port city of Hodeida, mil­i­tary sources said.

Their chief has vowed his troops would never sur­ren­der de­spite be­ing vastly out­num­bered, shelled gov­ern­ment po­si­tions in the south of the Red Sea city, loy­al­ist of­fi­cials said.

But de­spite the ‘in­tense at­tacks’, loy­al­ist forces made fresh ad­vances in eastern sec­tors of Hodeida.

Over one week into the re­newed of­fen­sive, civil­ians re­ported re­lent­less air strikes, low-fly­ing jets and Apache he­li­copters, mor­tars and mis­siles on the out­skirts of the city and within five kilo­me­tres of its strate­gic port, the Nor­we­gian Refugee Coun­cil said in a state­ment. — AFP

Ye­meni pro-gov­ern­ment forces gather on the eastern out­skirts of Hodeida. — AFP photo

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