Saudi military helicopter crashes in Yemen, killing 12 officers

US Defence Secretary James Mattis bids farewell to Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following their meeting in Riyadh

US Defence Secretary James Mattis bids farewell to Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following their meeting in Riyadh

A Saudi helicopter came down during military operations in Yemen on Tuesday, killing 12 officers aboard, Saudi media reported, and a Yemeni defense ministry news website said the cause was friendly fire.

According to Al Ekhbariya TV channel, the crash took place in the Marib province during a combat mission.

The coalition has been fighting in support of the internationally-recognised government against Houthi rebels and their allies for two years.

The Saudi air force has been launching strikes on Yemen, mainly Houthi dominated areas, since March 2015.

The conflict and a blockade imposed by the coalition have also triggered a humanitarian disaster, leaving 70% of the population in need of aid.

In September 2015, a rebel missile strike on a coalition base in Marib killed 67 coalition soldiers, a lot of them Emiratis.

The Saudi-led coalition accuses Iran of trying to use the Houthis to expand its influence in Yemen, one of the poorest Arab countries.

Houthi rebels seized the capital Sana'a in September 2014 and continued to advance through the country, before the Yemeni army backed by the Saudi-led air campaign managed to regain the southern city of Aden, which now hosts the government and the presidential office.