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US says Saudi Arabia, UAE protecting civilians

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he has certified to Congress that coalition partners Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are acting to reduce risks to civilians from their military operations in Yemen.

Pompeo said he delivered the certification on Tuesday to Congress, as required by US law to continue American refueling of Saudi and UAE warplanes.

In a statement, Pompeo said both countries “are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from military operations.”

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued a separate statement endorsing the certification, which he said has been illustrated by coalition support for United Nations-led efforts to end the conflict.

Mattis said he backed Pompeo’s finding that Saudi Arabia and UAE “are making every effort to reduce the risk of civilian casualties and collateral damage to civilian infrastructure.”

Mattis said last month the US intended to continue backing the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi militias in Yemen.

“The Trump administration has been clear that ending the conflict in Yemen is a national security priority,” Pompeo added in his statement.

He said Washington would work closely with the coalition to ensure Saudi and UAE support for UN peace efforts and to allow unimpeded access for commercial and humanitarian relief supplies to reach Yemenis.

Long-awaited, UN-brokered peace talks between the legitimate government and the Houthi rebels failed to take place as planned last week in Geneva because of the no-show of the Iranian-backed militias.

Meanwhile, Yemeni government forces seized two major rebel supply routes near the key port city of Hodeida, military sources said Wednesday.

Abdulrahman Saleh Abou Zaraa, head of the brigade fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels in Hodeida province, told AFP his forces had taken the insurgents’ main supply route linking the port city to the capital Sanaa, known as Kilo 16.

The forces seized a second supply route around Hodeida, known as Kilo 10, earlier on Wednesday, military sources said.

[Source: Saudi Gazette]
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