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Pompeo: Saudis taking 'demonstrable' action to avoid civilian causalities in Yemen

By
Nicholas Sakelaris
A child rides a bicycle past debris of a destroyed building allegedly hit by a previous Saudi-led airstrike in Yemen. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the coalition has taken demonstrable efforts to reduce civilian casualties. Yahya Arhab/EPA-EFE
A child rides a bicycle past debris of a destroyed building allegedly hit by a previous Saudi-led airstrike in Yemen. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the coalition has taken demonstrable efforts to reduce civilian casualties. Yahya Arhab/EPA-EFE

Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates aircraft have minimized the risk to civilians in their attacks on Yemen, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

The declaration allows U.S. aircraft to continue aerial refueling of Saudi and UAE war planes. The Saudi-led coalition has been at war with Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen since 2015.

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"I certified to Congress yesterday that the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from military operations of these governments," Pompeo said in a statement.

Without Pompeo's approval, U.S. forces couldn't continue offering support to the coalition.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis endorsed Pompeo's statement.

"The Saudi-led coalition's commitment is reflected in their support for these UN-led efforts," Mattis said.

The United Nations estimates at least 6,660 civilians have died in the Yemen Civil War, including last month when the Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a school bus, killing 40 children. A Saudi-backed investigative team later determined the airstrike was not justified.

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The Trump administration has expressed concern about civilian casualties but also emphasized the importance of fighting Iran and its allies.

Ending the war is a national security priority, Pompeo said.

"We will continue to work closely with the Saudi-led coalition to ensure Saudi Arabia and the UAE maintain support for UN-led efforts to end the civil war in Yemen," he said.

Pompeo also called on the coalition to allow humanitarian aid into the country.

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