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UAE fighter jet crashes in Yemen; two pilots killed

Officials said the plane struck a mountain after dropping bombs on suspected insurgents near the city of Aden, Yemen.
By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   March 14, 2016 at 7:13 AM

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, March 14 (UPI) -- Two pilots were killed in Yemen when their plane, a United Arab Emirates fighter jet, crashed into the side of a mountain after dropping bombs on Houthi rebels, the Saudi-led coalition said Monday.

The coalition blamed a technical failure of the aircraft, and although details were not given, security officials in Aden, Yemen, said the plane it struck a mountain in the city's western area of al-Buraiqeh after flying at low altitude while bombing suspected al-Qaida insurgents. Wreckage was found at the mountain site.

The pilots' names were not released.

It is the first known loss of a UAE plane in the Yemen conflict, in which Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations are supporting the Yemeni government of President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi against Houthis rebels largely supported by Iran. In early 2015 Hadi resigned the presidency and was placed under house arrest by the Houthi Revolutionary Guard. He later fled to Saudi Arabia, renounced his resignation and returned to Yemen in September 2015 to lead the government after the Houthis were driven from the city of Aden.

The UAE uses U.S.-built F-16 and French-built Mirage 2000 fighter planes. {linkThe plane that crashed was not identified: "http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35800511" target="_blank"}.

The Saudi-led coalition has participated in airstrikes in Yemen since March 2015, as well as supporting the Yemeni government with ground troops. More than 40 UAE troops died in September during a missile attack in Yemen's Marib province.

About 6,000 people have been killed so far in the conflict, which has become a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The United Nations has been critical of both sides for the large number of civilian casualties.

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