Sweden joins calls for stronger action to end Yemen war

11 November, 2018, 17:55 | Author: Donnie King
  • James Mattis

The U.S.is ending its practice of supplying Saudi aircraft with inflight fuel for the war the country is helping wage in neighboring Yemen.

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.

"Recently the kingdom and the coalition has increased its capability to independently conduct inflight refueling in Yemen".

In the past 24 hours, 27 Iran-backed Huthi rebels and 12 pro-government fighters have been killed on the outskirts of Hodeida city, a medical source told AFP on Wednesday. A government military source confirmed the toll.

Beyond refueling, the United States provides limited intelligence support to the Saudi-led coalition and sells it weaponry used in Yemen's war.

Hodeidah, a large city on Yemen's Red Sea coast, is the latest battleground between the Houthis and the Saudi-UAE alliance which has been fighting for control over the country for the past three and a half years.

Yemeni government forces backed by the coalition pressed farther into Hodeida, seizing its main hospital in heavy fighting on Saturday, as they shrugged off the end to USA refuelling support. Worldwide aid agencies warn any disruption to the port could sever that crucial lifeline.

The statement from the Saudi press agency follows United States media reports that the USA was to end the deal.

Also on Saturday, Saudi Arabia sought to project the decision to end in-flight refuelling as its own, not Washington's.

American officials earlier said Saudi forces now handled some 80 percent of their refueling operations, which crucially allow aircraft to fly longer sorties over possible targets and can ease the pressure for quick strikes.

Mattis acknowledged "continued bipartisan interest from Congress", and said the Trump administration is "appreciative of the continued dialogue we have had with key members on this issue". He said that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were taking adequate measures to minimize civilian deaths.

United Nations special envoy Martin Griffiths hopes to convene Yemen's warring parties for peace talks by the end of the year.

The intensified battle for Hodeida comes despite Mattis calling last month for a ceasefire and negotiations between Yemen's warring parties within 30 days. The Post first reported the Trump administration's desire to end the refueling.

However, on Thursday, the United Nations said its special envoy would instead convene talks by the end of the year.

Impoverished Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.

The World Health Organization estimates almost 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen's war since 2015, although rights groups say the toll could be five times higher.


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