Arab Coalition ends USA refueling deal in Yemen

President Trump shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House in March

President Trump shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House in March

A controversial refueling arrangement between the United States and the Saudi-led coalition that is bombing Yemen was ended on Saturday, halting a key part of Washington's involvement in the conflict. US officials told Reuters only a fifth of Saudi-led coalition aircraft require in-air refueling from the United States.

The United States is halting refueling of aircraft from the Saudi-led coalition engaged in Yemen, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia said on Friday, ending one of the most divisive aspects of USA assistance to the Saudi war effort.

There has been an global 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.

"Recently, the kingdom and the coalition has increased its capacity to independently conduct inflight refueling in Yemen", the SPA said.

Currently, the Pentagon provides refueling capabilities for about 20 percent of coalition planes flying sorties over Yemen.

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

A total of 110 Houthi rebels have been killed in 24 hours of clashes in western Yemen's Hodeida along with 22 pro-government troops fighting to retake the port city, medical sources said on Friday.

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.

Apparently in a rush to try to take Hodeida before then, coalition artillery, helicopter gunships and airstrikes have pounded the rebels, with dozens killed on both sides.

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

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

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

The announcement came amid worldwide outrage over Riyadh's killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in October, though Norway did not mention the murder specifically.

The battle for Hodeida, which provides a crucial lifeline for the 14 million Yemenis - half the country's population - now at risk of starvation, has become the war's epicentre. He told them cutting off support could jeopardize cooperation on counter-terrorism and reduce American influence with Saudi Arabia.