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Saudi-Led coalition in Yemen asks U.S. to halt refueling of aircraft

The Arab Coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen announced it will no longer use US in-flight refueling since it has developed its own capabilities to do so.

In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency, the decision follows a request from coalition members to end the practice because of growing independence in refueling aircraft in mid-air.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the member countries of the coalition to support legitimacy in Yemen, continually pursue improvements to military professionalism and self-sufficiency,” it said.

The coalition said t it had asked the United Sates to halt refueling its aircraft engaged in the war in Yemen.

“Recently the Kingdom and the coalition has increased its capability to independently conduct in-flight refueling in Yemen. As a result, in consultation with the United States, the coalition has requested cessation of in-flight refueling support for its operations in Yemen.”

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said the United States supported Saudi Arabia's decision to cease American aerial refueling.

"The US will also continue working with the coalition and Yemen to minimize civilian casualties and expand urgent humanitarian efforts throughout the country," the US defence secretary said.

Mattis last month made a surprise call for a ceasefire in Yemen and urged warring parties to enter into negotiations within the next 30 days.

The United Nations has now pushed that deadline back to the end of the year.

The coalition reiterated its hope that the UN-sponsored negotiations with the Houthi rebels in a third country, possibly Sweden, would “lead to a negotiated settlement” and “end the aggression” of the militias that have overrun urban centers in Yemen since 2014.