the coalition called for the end of US air refueling

The United States has approved Riyadh's announcement of an end to the refueling of its planes, used to fight Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which fights Houthi rebels in Yemen, believes it is self-sufficient. She called on the United States to stop refueling its planes, the official Saudi agency announced Saturday.

"The Kingdom and the Coalition have recently increased their ability to independently conduct air-to-air refueling in Yemen"says the official SPA news agency. "As a result, in consultation with the United States, the Coalition called for the cessation of in-flight refueling support for its operations in Yemen. " Saudi Arabia and other coalition members, supporting forces loyal to Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, "Are continually seeking to improve their military professionalism and self-sufficiency"says the Saudi agency.

Hours later, Washington confirmed the announcement of Riyadh. "We support the decision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, after consultations with the US Government, to use the Coalition's own military capabilities to conduct in-flight refueling in support of its operations in Yemen"US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a statement issued in Washington.

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Deadly fighting in Hodeida

Following the failure in September of a UN mediation to find a political settlement, the coalition announced the resumption of the assault on the strategic port Hodeida, in western Yemen, which intensified from 1st November. The battle to retake Hodeida from the rebels – who have been in control of the city since 2014 – threatens the peace efforts of the United States and the UN, which hopes to be able to convene talks by the end of the year.

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The fighting in this strategic city was particularly deadly on Friday, with strong resistance from Houthi rebels trying by all means to slow the advance of pro-government forces. For the first time on Thursday, Loyalist troops, supported by Saudi air raids, entered the city where they advanced a few kilometers from the south and east towards the port. In response, Houthi rebels, whose leader promised his men would fight to the end, intensified their counter-attacks to slow their advance.

The fighting of the last 24 hours in Hodeida has left 110 dead among the rebels, according to medical sources. A military leader of the loyalist forces has reported 22 deaths among pro-government fighters. This new record brings to 382 the number of fighters on both sides who have been killed since 1st November.

"The Coalition Command expresses the hope that the forthcoming UN-led negotiations in a third country will lead to a negotiated settlement" conflict, reports also SPA. Coalition "Hopes to see an end to the aggression of Iranian-backed Houthi militias against the Yemeni people and against countries in the region, including the threat of ballistic missiles and drones".

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