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US Mulls Ending Aerial Refueling For Saudi Coalition Jets Over Yemen - Reports

Sputnik News

02:23 10.11.2018(updated 02:41 10.11.2018)

US Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Todd Young (R-IN) said in a news release on Friday that according to a provision in the US defense budget law, the United States cannot refuel Saudi coalition planes in Yemen until Riyadh makes a good faith effort to end the conflict.

"As a first step, we call on the Trump administration to immediately end US air refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft in Yemen," the senators said on Friday. "If the administration does not take immediate steps… we are prepared to take additional action when the Senate comes back into session."

Meanwhile, two US officials, on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Friday that Washington could completely suspend refueiling of aircraft from the Saud-led coalition engaged in Yemen. In particular, the report said that the issue was under consideration by both countries and suggested that such a decision could ultimately be made by Riyadh, given its own refueling capacity.

The move comes amid a lasting outcry over Riyadh's actions in Yemen. In particular after consecutive coalition strikes that have reportedly killed scores of civilians, many of them children.

According to a UN data, the estimates of civilian deaths in Yemen's civil war range from 10,000 to 16,000, most of which are blamed on Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on civilian targets such as hospitals, schools and open-air markets.

The Pentagon has warned Saudi Arabia that it could withdraw its military and intelligence support for its operation against Houthi rebels in Yemen after dozens of civilians were killed in a strike on a school bus in August this year, CNN reported earlier, citing US officials.

An airstrike carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in Saada, Yemen's northern province, hit a bus carrying children from a summer camp on August 9, killing 51 people, including 40 minors.

Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich told Sputnik on August 16 that the US Department of Defense was working with Congress on the issue of US military involvement in attacks in Yemen.

Last month, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo and US Defense Secretary James Mattis in the separate statements said that the Saudi-led coalition must cease all airstrikes in populated areas in the country, urging Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels negotiate a cessation of hostilities in Yemen within the next month.

The Saudi-led international coalition has been carrying air strikes in Yemen in support of the country's government, fighting against the rebel Houthi group since 2015. Both sides have been accused by international organizations and rights groups of committing hostilities against Yemeni civilians.


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