U.S. ends Saudi-UAE mid-air refuelling support in Yemen war

Trump blames Yemen school bus bombing on Saudis not knowing how to use U.S.-supplied weapons

A child injured in the deadly Saudi-led coalition airstrike rests in a hospital in Saada Yemen in August

"The US will also continue working with the coalition and Yemen to minimize civilian casualties and expand urgent humanitarian efforts throughout the country", he said in a statement.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said early Saturday it had "requested cessation of inflight refueling" by the USA for its fighter jets after American officials said they would stop the operations amid growing anger over civilian casualties from the kingdom's airstrikes.

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

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said Friday that the United States supports Saudi Arabia's "decision" to cease American aerial refueling.

Norway said Friday it was freezing all defence material export licences to Saudi Arabia over recent developments in the country and the war in Yemen.

The United States effectively gave a green light to the Saudi-led offensive when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on September 12 certified continued American support for the coalition's air campaign against the Houthis.

Mattis in August noted that United States support was conditioned on a Saudi commitment to doing "everything humanly possible" to avoid any loss of innocent life and Riyadh supporting a UN-brokered peace process to end the civil war.

Saudi Arabia has a fleet of 23 planes for refuelling operations, including six Airbus 330 MRTT used for Yemen, while the United Arab Emirates has six of the Airbus planes, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya al-Hadath channel reported on Saturday.

A Saudi-led coalition launched a massive military campaign in the country in 2015 to root out Houthi rebels who had taken the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and ousted then-president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

In the past 24 hours, 27 Iran-backed Houthi rebels and 12 pro-government fighters have been killed on the outskirts of Hodeidah city, a medical source told AFP on Wednesday.

Last month, Mr Mattis made a surprise call for a ceasefire in Yemen and urged warring parties to enter negotiations within 30 days.

The move comes at a time of worldwide outrage over the murder of US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and after Democratic and Republican politicians threatened to take action in Congress next week over the refuelling operations.

Almost 10,000 people have since been killed and the country now stands at the brink of starvation.

Despite this, and amid widespread calls from citizens and human rights groups, few Western countries have actually suspended arms agreements with the Saudi government.

Hodeida port is crucial for aid delivery and food imports to Yemen, where starvation looms over 14 million people and a child dies every 10 minutes from easily preventable diseases, according to the UN.

Yemen has experienced a devastating civil war, which has led to the deaths of as many of 50,000 people and pushed the country to the brink of nation-wide starvation. He told them cutting off support could jeopardize cooperation on counter-terrorism and reduce American influence with Saudi Arabia.

Latest News