US hails Saudi plan to scale down Yemen air war

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest listens to a question during a daily briefing at the White House in Washington. (File photo)

The United States has hailed a promise from Saudi Arabia to scale down its air offensive against Yemen.

On Tuesday, Saudi warplanes bombed a crowded market in the Yemeni province of Hajjah. The bombing killed 119 people, including 22 children, drawing international condemnation.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Thursday welcomed a statement that the year-old Saudi war on Yemen was nearing the "end of the major combat phase."

"We have expressed our concerns about the loss of innocent life in Yemen, the violence there that is plaguing that country has caught too many innocent civilians in the crossfire," Earnest said.

"We would welcome and do welcome the statement from [Saudi-led] coalition spokesperson Saudi General Ahmed al-Assiri who indicated today that major operations in Yemen are coming to an end and that the coalition will work on 'long-term plans' to bring stability to the country."

Al-Assiri had earlier said that "in any military campaign you have phases." "Today," he said, "we are in the end of the major combat phase."

Saudi Arabia launched its military aggression against Yemen in March of last year in a bid to bring the country’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a Riyadh ally, back to power and undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Thousands of Yemenis rally in the western port city of al- Hudaydah, condemning the Saudi raids against their homeland on March 4, 2016. (almasirah)

More than 8,000 people, among them over 2,000 children, have been killed and at least 16,000 others injured since the onset of the aggression.

The Saudi strikes have also taken a heavy toll on the country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

The United States has provided logistical and intelligence support to the Saudi air war.

"The support we provide we think is helping to prevent civilian casualties," a US military official said. "Absent the intel and precision guided munitions we provide, the civilian casualties would be worse."

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