A controversial refueling arrangement between the United States and the Saudi-led coalition that is bombing Yemen was ended on Saturday, the official Saudi Press Agency said.
“Recently the Kingdom and the coalition has increased its capability to independently conduct inflight refueling in Yemen,” the SPA said.
“As a result, in consultation with the United States, the coalition has requested cessation of inflight refueling support for its operations in Yemen.”
Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said he supported Saudi Arabia’s “decision.”
“We support the decision by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Yemen has been since March 2015 under brutal aggression by Saudi-led Coalition, in a bid to restore control to fugitive president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who is Riyadh’s ally.
The World Health Organization said that nearly ,000 Yemenis have been killed in the conflict since 2015. However, Human rights groups say the real death toll may be five times higher.
UN agencies say some 14 million people are at risk of famine in the country — described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with the World Food Programme saying it will nearly double food aid to the country to avert “mass starvation”.
International criticism over US support for Saudi Arabia grew further following the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The US sees Saudi Arabia as a key ally, especially in terms of providing a counter to Iran.
Mattis last month made a surprise call for a ceasefire in Yemen and urged warring parties to enter negotiations within the next 30 days.