Saudi officers killed in helicopter crash in Yemen

19 April, 2017, 10:52 | Author: Sam Montgomery
  • US Defence Secretary James Mattis bids farewell to Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following their meeting in Riyadh

Four Saudi officers and eight soldiers were killed in a plane crash during a mission in the eastern Yemeni Province of Mareb, the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen on Tuesday said.

"The near-term Saudi concern is how they send a message to the Iranians in Yemen, and they would like full-throated American support", said Jon Alterman, head of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive military campaign to fight Yemen's Shia Houthi militia group and support the country's Saudi-backed government.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis arrives in Israel Thursday, following meetings Tuesday and Wednesday in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

It is necessary to end the "firing of missiles provided by Iran against Saudi Arabia" as well as "the death of innocent people in Yemen", Mattis said.

"We are seeking for the kingdom, in the medium term, to become a nation that develops, manufactures and exports the advanced technologies of renewable energy production", al-Falih said. For Mattis, it is a chance to reconnect with kingdom leadership that he worked closely with in the past, including King Salman who he will visit Wednesday.

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The campaign, which lacks any worldwide mandate and has faced increasing criticism, has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people, majority civilians.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said the Egyptian military "is now taking part with naval and aerial forces but at that time we were talking about around 30 to 40 thousand ground troops".

He also echoed past Saudi accusations that Houthis have been receiving arms from Iran, saying that the Iranians have supplied Houthis with missiles they use to fire on Saudi Arabia.

Among those killed were a Sudanese commander and two Emirati troops, who were deployed to Yemen as part of a Riyadh-led military coalition helping the militants loyal to the country's former government.

Multiple rounds of U.N-brokered peace talks have failed to bridge the gap between the warring parties in Yemen.

Last month, the Houthis claimed that they shot down a Saudi Apache helicopter over the Red Sea port of Hudaydah, which they control.

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