Saudi officers killed in helicopter crash in Yemen

19 April, 2017, 02:39 | Author: Cecelia Webb
  • Ahmad Asiri

A Saudi-led coalition began air strikes over Yemen in March 2015 in support of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's internationally recognized government in its fight against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The coalition says the crash took place in the eastern province of Marib on Tuesday and that it's investigating the circumstances.

The coalition gave no details on how the aircraft was brought down.

Rights groups have repeatedly criticised the coalition bombing campaign in Yemen for causing civilian casualties.

Now the USA military is conducting counterterrorism operations and airstrikes against al-Qaeda militants in Yemen, while a small group of US forces provides limited intelligence and refueling support for the Saudi-led forces fighting the Houthis.

On Wednesday, Mattis will meet the kingdom's top leaders in Riyadh. The campaign to restore the government ousted by the Iran-allied militia is part of a larger assertive effort to prevent weapons from reaching Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies, who have overrun much of Yemen. DEEPER INTO YEMEN The United States also is considering deepening its role in Yemen's conflict by more directly aiding its Gulf allies that are battling Houthi rebels who have some Iranian support, officials say, potentially relaxing a USA policy that limited American support.

The coalition hopes that a successful operation there would force the rebels back to the negotiating table, in a considerably weaker position and thus more amenable to concessions.

He said the Trump administration's goal is for the crisis "to be put in front of a United Nations -brokered negotiating team and try to resolve this politically as soon as possible".

It was not clear if he was hinting that the United States may not be as supportive of the Hodeidah plan, or if he agreed with the coalition assessment that it would restart talks.

Mattis told reporters while heading to the kingdom that he will push for a political resolution to end the conflict.

In an attempt to take a harder stance on Iran than its predecessor, the Trump administration appears to have warmed to Saudi Arabia's fight against the Houthis, despite concerns from Human Rights Groups and USA lawmakers who have characterized the Saudi bombing campaign as indiscriminate.

"So we will work with our allies, with our partners, to try to get it to the UN-brokered negotiating table".

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