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Egypt prepares for combat in Yemen

The country would join other Arab nations in a coalition against Iranian-backed rebels.

By Ed Adamczyk
Egypt prepares for combat in Yemen
Mirage fighter planes of the Egyptian Air Force. Photo courtesy of wikimedia.org/ Matt Epright/ U.S. Marine Corps.

CAIRO, March 27 (UPI) -- Egypt's army, the largest in the Arab world, is prepared to send troops to Yemen to aid the Saudi-led support of the Yemeni government, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia and at least nine other Arab nations are a coalition fighting Iranian-supported Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who overtook Yemen's government in January. The coalition began airstrikes of Houthi targets and a blockade of the Yemeni coast, as elected President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi escaped his country and fled to Saudi Arabia.

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The Saudi al-Arabiya News reported Saudi Arabia has deployed 100 fighter jets and 150,000 soldiers to the effort.

Sisi said Thursday the Egyptian navy and air force would join the campaign to "fulfill the calls of the Yemeni people for the return of stability and the preservation of Arab identity."

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Although there has been no evidence thus far of a ground war, coalition fighter jets flew dozens of missions this week and effectively disabled the Houthi-controlled Yemeni air force. Except to offer intelligence, the United States has not involved itself in the conflict, although Houthi-controlled television stations in Yemen broadcast footage of casualties from the bombardment and blamed "American-backed aggression."

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Egyptian warships traveled to the area to a chokepoint of the Red Sea, also known as the Bab el Mandeb strait, through which much of the world's oil supply passes. The airstrikes, and news of preparations for what is regarded as the start of a protracted war in Yemen, drove crude oil prices up about 4 percent on global markets.

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