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US to refuel Saudi-led warplanes in Yemen

Jet fighters of the Saudi Royal air force at the Riyadh military airport , on January 1, 2013. (AFP photo)

In another move to support Saudi Arabia’s air campaign against Yemen, the United States has vowed to provide aerial refuel for aircraft attacking the country.

The US military's Central Command (CENTCOM) will deploy refueling tankers for the Saudis and their allies in the war against Yemen, a senior military official said on Thursday.

"We have given CENTCOM the authority to do tanking," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

US President Barack Obama has authorized the Pentagon to provide logistical and intelligence support to Saudi airstrikes in Yemen.

The intelligence was being provided from surveillance satellites and unmanned surveillance aircraft, helping create "a battlefield picture" for the Saudis to track the location of the Houthi fighters, the official said

"We're helping the Saudis understand what's happening on their border," the official said. "They're looking for evidence of any Houthi ground incursions."

The Houthis are "poised above Aden and we're trying to help the Saudis build a picture of that," the official added. "But we're not providing them with targeting information."

A Yemeni man and his son search a room after a Saudi air strike destroyed their house near Sana’a Airport on March 26, 2015. (AFP photo)


The official claimed that the intelligence was also helping the Saudi-led aircraft avoid causing civilian casualties in Yemen.

Rights groups, however, have voiced outrage at accounts of civilian casualties from the airstrikes.

In the latest air raid on Wednesday, 29 people were killed and 24 more injured. The airstrike targeted a food factory in the western Yemeni province of Hudaydah.

Saudi Arabia launched an air campaign against Yemen on March 26 in a bid to restore power to fugitive former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.

The Ansarullah movement says Hadi has lost his legitimacy as president of Yemen after he escaped the capital.


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