Sweden joins calls for stronger action to end Yemen war

James Mattis

Mr Mattis said the United States would play a continuing role to help the Saudi-led coalition and Yemeni forces minimise civilian casualties and expand humanitarian efforts.

The United States is halting refueling of aircraft from the Saudi-led coalition engaged in Yemen, Saudi Arabia said on Saturday, a move that would end one of the most divisive aspects of US assistance to the Saudi war effort.

The move comes amid an ongoing global outcry over Saudi actions in Yemen, particularly after a string of high-profile coalition strikes that have killed scores of civilians, many of them children.

The United States effectively gave a green light to the Saudi-led offensive when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on September 12 certified continued American support for the coalition's air campaign against the Houthis.

Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide told Norwegian news agency NTB on Friday that the move was temporary until "a comprehensive assessment of recent developments in Saudi Arabia and the region and the unsettling situation in Yemen" is completed.

Earlier this year, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis defended USA military support to Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen, when lawmakers weighed forcing the Pentagon to end Washington's involvement in the conflict.

Earlier this year, Mattis had defended U.S. military support to Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen, when lawmakers weighed forcing the Pentagon to end Washington's involvement.

The Pentagon has provided refueling capabilities for about 20 percent of coalition planes flying sorties over Yemen.

A Saudi-led coalition launched a massive military campaign in the country in 2015 to root out Houthi rebels who had taken the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and ousted then-president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

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But despite the "intense attacks", loyalist forces made fresh advances in eastern sectors of Hodeida.

Fighting in Hodeidah has intensified in the last week as Yemeni government forces and their Saudi and UAE allies try to wrest control of the city from the Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran.

Backed by Saudi air raids, loyalist troops for the first time entered residential neighbourhoods on Thursday, using bulldozers to remove concrete road blocks installed by the rebels.

The clashes come as the United Nations pushes to restart negotiations between the warring parties, after planned talks in Geneva collapsed in September before they even began.

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

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for an immediate end to the military escalation in Yemen.

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.

He told them cutting off support could jeopardise cooperation on counter-terrorism and reduce American influence with Saudi Arabia.

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