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    A picture taken on November 16, 2015 shows a Saudi F-15 fighter jet landing at the Khamis Mushayt military airbase, some 880 km from the capital Riyadh

    Saudi-Led Coalition in Yemen Asks US to Stop Refueling Its Aircraft - Reports

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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The Trump administration is ending the practice of air refueling Saudi-coalition aircraft and its decision is expected to be made public in the next few days, US media reported.

    The decision would end a tangible and controversial aspect of US support for the Saudi coalition’s war in Yemen, the Washington Post newspaper said on Friday.

    The decision was made amid mounting criticism of the three-year-old Yemen conflict and Saudi-led coalition air strikes that a UN human rights panel said is responsible for scores of civilian deaths, often using US-supplied munitions. The move also comes after a wave of criticism around the world over the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

    Meanwhile, Riyadh said Friday that Saudi Arabia and its allies were able to "increase their capacity" of refueling their jets, and thus will do so independently, Reuters reported, citing Saudi Press agency.

    In turn, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis voiced support on Friday for the Saudi decision to end US in-flight refueling of Saudi-led coalition planes, adding that Washington will continue helping the Saudi-led coalition and Yemeni forces minimize civilian casualties in the war-torn country.

    "The US and the Coalition are planning to collaborate on building up legitimate Yemeni forces to defend the Yemeni people, secure their country’s borders, and contribute to counter Al Qaeda and ISIS[Daesh] efforts in Yemen and the region," Mattis said in a statement, cited by Reuters.

    Earlier in the day, Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Todd Young called on President Donald Trump to halt US refueling of Saudi coalition planes in Yemen until Riyadh makes a good faith effort to end civilian casualties.

    READ MORE: Trump Accuses Saudi Arabia of Unskillful Use of US Weapons in Yemen

    Yemen has been in a state of conflict, with the government headed by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi fighting the Houthi movement.

    The Yemeni government is backed by the Saudi-led coalition of mostly Persian Gulf nations that has been carrying out operations targeting Houthi-controlled areas since March 2015.

    The situation in Yemen deteriorated further in June when the Saudi-led coalition launched an offensive to seize Al Hudaydah, a key port city for delivering humanitarian aid, from the Houthis.

    United Nations spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters on Friday that increased fighting in the Yemeni port of Al Hudaydah and the surrounding governorate killed more than 90 persons last month.

    The war in Yemen has resulted in a huge civilian death toll and provoked a humanitarian disaster. More than 14 million Yemenis face pre-famine conditions, according to the United Nations.

    READ MORE: Norway Suspends Defense-Related, Dual-Use Exports to Saudi Arabia

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    US Not to Change Logistical Support for Saudi-led Operations in Yemen
    Saudi-Led Coalition Sends Additional Forces to Hodeidah - Yemeni Military
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    Tags:
    refueling, suspension, aircraft, United States, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
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