02:32 GMT +322 October 2017
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    People gather around the engine of a drone aircraft which the Houthi rebels said they have downed in Sanaa, Yemen October 1, 2017

    US House Introduces Bill to End Support for Saudi-Led Operation in Yemen

    © REUTERS/ Khaled Abdullah
    Middle East
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    Citing human rights concerns, a bipartisan committee in the US House of Representatives has called for the US military to stop lending support to the Saudi Arabia's operation in Yemen.

    The primary way the US has supported the Saudi-led coalition's operation has been refueling missions flown by the US Air Force that allow their Saudi counterparts to continue a campaign of airstrikes in their southern neighbor. The new bill, House Congressional Resolution 81, would bar the US military from participating in any military action, including support for any side, in the Yemeni Civil War except operations against the powerful Islamic militant group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

    The bill has attracted 30 House co-sponsors, including Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin), as well as prominent Republicans such as Walter Jones (R-North Carolina) and Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), Khanna's co-sponsor. Congress has not authorized any US military action in Yemen against anyone but AQAP.

    The US has flown a reported 2,363 refueling sorties in East Africa as part of Operation Enduring Freedom — Horn of Africa, a military operation to support African and Middle Eastern countries in their battles against Islamic militant groups such as Daesh, al-Shabaab, and al-Qaeda. These missions have offloaded 80 million pounds of fuel to 10,400 aircraft since April 2015.

    A statement from Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) spokesman Capt. Jose Davis said that USAF does "not have the ability to break out this data just for the Saudi coalition jets in Yemen because our database does not break down details on each receiv[ing aircraft]."

    AFCENT commander Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigan told reporters in September that the US military's involvement is limited to refueling Saudi aircraft.

    "Yes, we still provide tankers. Yes, we still have airmen in the Saudi [air operations center]. But I want to be very clear on this: We do not provide [or] advise on targeting," Harrigan said at the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space and Cyber Conference.

    "What we have those airmen doing down there is basically assuring that any sorties that we would have in and around Yemen are deconflicted from what the Saudi-led coalition is flying."

    Against AQAP, the US is willing to use military force — including, on two occasions since the civil war began, putting boots on the ground. The January Yakla raid was a disaster, killing dozens of civilians as well as one US Navy SEAL, for no tangible intelligence gains. The May Al Hathla raid was quiet but more successful, reportedly killing seven AQAP militants in a training camp.

    Related:

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    Saudi Threats, US Silence Block UN Probe of Civilian Deaths in Yemen - HRW
    About 70% of Rebel Forces in Yemen Are Child Recruits - Foreign Minister
    Tags:
    refueling, air support, war crimes, Yemen civil war, US Air Forces Central Command, Daesh, House of Representatives, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), US Air Force, Horn of Africa, Sana'a, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
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