Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

Saudi officers killed in helicopter crash in Yemen

A bank employee counts pound notes at Kasikornbank in Bangkok A bank employee counts pound notes at Kasikornbank in Bangkok Thailand
Theresa Hayes | 19 April, 2017, 00:57

Loyalist forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition launched an assault to seize the Khaled Ibn Al-Walid base from Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies who had controlled it for over two years, military sources said.

The Black Hawk helicopter crashed in the eastern province of Marib, the coalition said, adding that it is investigating the circumstances.

Also on Tuesday, the USA defence secretary James Mattis began a week-long tour of the Middle East and eastern Africa in Saudi Arabia, for talks on regional security, with Yemen and Syria leading the agenda.

The death toll was one of the largest in a single incident involving Saudi forces since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen's war in 2015 to try to roll back the dominant Houthi group and restore President Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi to power.

The Saudis have also lost dozens of soldiers in cross-border attacks from Yemen.

It said an investigation had been launched to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident. "And this is something, with the number of innocent people dying inside Yemen, that has simply got to brought to an end", Mr Mattis said.

The goal is for a United Nations team to try to resolve the conflict "politically, as soon as possible", Mattis said.

During the trip, Mattis will meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as well as the defense minister, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud, and the interior minister, deputy crown prince Mohammed Bin Nayef.

Multiple rounds of U.N-brokered peace talks have failed to bridge the gap between the warring parties in Yemen.

As Saudi Arabia is overcomplying with the OPEC production cuts and showing fellow OPEC members a "lead by example", the Kingdom cut its crude oil exports in February to the lowest level since May 2015, while Saudi refineries processed record amounts of supply for domestic use.

On Sunday, General Asiri said in an interview with Al Arabiya TV that "Abdel Fattah al-Sisi offered the Saudi government and the coalition to send ground troops to Yemen".

In the past weeks, fighting has intensified in Yeman's western coastline regions. Coalition officials say they are preparing for an all-out assault to take control over the vital Red Sea port city of Hoedida, considered the lifeline for Houthis and their landlocked base in northern Yemen.