"We support the decision by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, after consultations with the U.S. Government, to use the Coalition’s own military capabilities to conduct in-flight refueling in support of its operations in Yemen," the statement, published on the department's website, read.
Mattis went on to say that the US would continue cooperating with the Saudi-led coalition and Yemen to "minimise civilian casualties and expand urgent humanitarian efforts throughout the country," while it would also support UN effort's to solve the crisis.
The coalition's request came amid the backdrop of US media reports that Washington planned to cease its refuelling support to the coalition amid mounting criticism of the devastating Yemeni conflict, raging since 2015, and the killing of Saudi opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey.
The coalition supports the Yemeni government in the conflict, carrying out airstrikes targeting the other warring party, the Houthi rebel movement. The conflict has resulted in a huge civilian death toll, leading to an acute humanitarian disaster and outbreaks of cholera across the country. The situation has provoked global concern and criticism.
The killing of Khashoggi triggered an escalation of criticism against Saudi authorities. The journalist went missing after visiting the Saudi Consulate in early October, while Riyadh eventually acknowledged that he had been killed inside the building.