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Pentagon Moving To Stop Refueling Saudi Aircraft Involved In Yemen War

A F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the “Eagles” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 115 conducts aerial refueling operations with a US Air Force KC-10A Extender over the Pacific Ocean, February 26, 2017

The Pentagon is moving to stop refueling Saudi Arabian aircraft which have waged a three-year bombing campaign against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, U.S. officials said on November 9.

The decision comes amid growing anger against Saudi Arabia in Congress, where legislators have threatened to curb arms sales to the U.S. ally amid charges its air strikes have killed thousands of Yemeni civilians.

"I’ve been calling for this for over three years," said Democratic Representative Ted Lieu. "We shouldn’t be supporting coalition war crimes and I look forward to continuing to scrutinize the U.S.’s role in Yemen when we’re in the majority next Congress."

The refueling change does not affect the Pentagon's military assistance and training aimed at improving the accuracy of Saudi air strikes, said the officials, who added that Saudi Arabia is already providing four-fifths of its own refueling.

With elections this week handing control of the U.S. House of Representatives to Democrats, the possibility of curbs on arms sales to Saudi Arabia is expected to gain traction on Capitol Hill.

The Yemeni war has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than 2 million, and led to widespread famine since 2015.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters