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United States to stop refueling of Saudi aircraft in Yemen war

United States to stop refueling of Saudi aircraft in Yemen war

"As a result, in consultation with the United States, the Coalition has requested the cessation of inflight refuelling support for its operations in Yemen", it said in a statement.

There has been an worldwide outcry over Saudi actions in Yemen, particularly after a series of high-profile coalition strikes that have killed scores of civilians, many of them children.

"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-Qaida and ISIS efforts in Yemen and the region", US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.

Earlier this year, Mr Mattis had defended U.S. military support to Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen, when politicians considered forcing the Pentagon to end Washington's involvement.

American officials earlier said Saudi forces now handled some 80 percent of their refueling operations, which crucially allow aircraft to fly longer sorties over possible targets and eases the pressure on quick strikes. US officials told Reuters only a fifth of Saudi-led coalition aircraft require in-air refueling from the United States.

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the conflict between embattled Yemeni President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, whose government is recognised by the United Nations, and the Houthis in 2015.

But despite the "intense attacks", loyalist forces made fresh advances in eastern sectors of Hodeida.

In the past 24 hours, 27 Iran-backed Huthi rebels and 12 pro-government fighters have been killed on the outskirts of Hodeida city, a medical source told AFP on Wednesday.

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Backed by Saudi air raids, loyalist troops for the first time entered residential neighbourhoods on Thursday, using bulldozers to remove concrete road blocks installed by the rebels.

The United States and Britain late last month called for a ceasefire in Yemen to support U.N. -led efforts to end the almost four-year long war that has killed more than 10,000 people and triggered the world's most urgent humanitarian crisis.

The rebels have controlled Hodeida since 2014 when they overran the capital Sanaa and then swept through much of the rest of the country triggering Saudi-led military intervention the following year and a devastating war of attrition.

David Miliband, who is a former British foreign secretary and member of parliament, said while the journalist's death was tragic, global focus on Khashoggi's murder should be switched to actions of Saudi Arabia in Yemen, where millions of lives are affected.

Almost 10,000 Yemenis have been killed in the conflict since 2015, according to the World Health Organization.

Despite this, and amid widespread calls from citizens and human rights groups, few Western countries have actually suspended arms agreements with the Saudi government.

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.