Saudi coalition asks to end refueling deal with US for Yemen war

Dubai: The Saudi-led coalition that is bombing Yemen has asked for the “cessation of inflight refueling support” from the United States, a statement from the Saudi press agency said on Saturday.

The move follows a report in the Washington Post that the US was to end the deal, and comes amid ongoing international outcry over Saudi actions in Yemen, particularly after a string of high-profile coalition strikes that have killed scores of civilians, many of them children.

“Recently the Kingdom and the coalition has increased its capability to independently conduct inflight refueling in Yemen,” the SPA said.

“As a result, in consultation with the United States, the coalition has requested cessation of inflight refueling support for its operations in Yemen.”

Earlier, Pentagon spokeswoman Commander Rebecca Rebarich said “discussion with the Saudis” was ongoing but did not confirm the report in the Post.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in August warned that US support for the coalition was “not unconditional,” noting it must do “everything humanly possible to avoid any innocent loss of life.”

The Pentagon has provided refueling capabilities for about 20 percent of coalition planes flying sorties over Yemen.