U.S. to stop refueling of Saudi aircraft bombing Yemen

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The Saudi and UAE-led war in Yemen has caused growing worldwide unease after high-profile coalition air strikes that have killed scores of civilians, many of them children. "As a result, in consultation with the United States, the coalition has requested cessation of inflight refueling support for its operations in Yemen".

Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition that has been fighting the Huthi rebels since 2015 to shore up the internationally recognised government, is active nearly daily in Yemen.

Members of the Arab Coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen are to no longer use American in-flight refueling, the Saudi Press Agency announced on Saturday.

Beyond refuelling, the United States provides limited intelligence support to the Saudi-led coalition and sells it weaponry used in Yemen's war. Mattis said the United States would play a continuing role to help the Saudi-led coalition and Yemeni forces minimize civilian casualties and expand humanitarian efforts.

The change comes at a time of global outrage over the killing of USA -based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and after Democratic and Republican lawmakers threatened to address the refueling operations next week in Congress.

The Pentagon was providing refueling capabilities for about 20 per cent of coalition planes flying sorties over Yemen.

Mattis went on to say that the USA 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 United Nations effort's to solve the crisis.

The coalition has been fighting the Houthis on the side of the government and its allies since 2015.

The Yemeni Joint Resistance forces on Friday took full control of the May 22 Hospital in the western suburbs of Hodeidah in Yemen, amid a major collapse of the Houthi militia's defences, Wam news agency reported on Saturday.

At least 61 combatants have been killed in clashes in Yemen's flashpoint Hodeida, medics and a military source said Sunday, and dozens of wounded taken to hospitals outside the city.

The intensified battle for Hodeida comes despite Pentagon chief James Mattis calling last month for a ceasefire and negotiations between Yemen´s warring parties within 30 days.

Almost 10,000 people have since been killed and the country now stands at the brink of starvation.

According to the United Nations, some 14 million Yemeni people - fully half the country's population - are dependent on food aid for their survival, and more than 400,000 children are suffering from serious malnutrition.

The action comes amid growing congressional anger against Saudi Arabia, a key ally and the country where President Donald Trump made his first visit overseas after taking office.

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