Yemen president sacks defence and army chiefs amid Hodeida offensive

Trump blames Yemen school bus bombing on Saudis not knowing how to use U.S.-supplied weapons

The US and Saudi Arabia say they have agreed to end US refueling of Saudi aircraft bombing Yemen but several officials underlined that American training and military assistance will continue.

Saudi Arabia, in a statement released by its embassy in Washington on Friday (local time), said it had chose to request an end to U.S. aerial refuelling for its operations in Yemen because it could now handle it by itself.

"We have decided that in the present situation we will not give new licenses for the export of defense material or multipurpose goods for military use to Saudi Arabia", Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said in a statement.

Pro-government fighters moved into the neighbourhood between the May 22 hospital - the largest in Hodeidah - and Sanaa Road, which links the port city to inland Yemen.

A source at Hodeidah's military hospital told the AFP news agency that dozens of wounded rebels were transferred to hospitals in the provinces of Sanaa and Ibb, further inland. "As a result, in consultation with the United States, the coalition has requested cessation of support for it's operations in Yemen", the SPA said.

The change comes at a time of worldwide outrage over the killing of US -based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and after Democratic and Republican lawmakers threatened to address the refueling operations next week in Congress.

Colonel Ahmad Ali al-Johayli, head of the Giants Brigade, said that the Yemeni army forces advanced in the northern and western parts of Hodeidah with the support of the Arab Coalition. Global aid agencies warn any disruption to the port could sever that crucial lifeline.

USA officials, speaking on condition of anonymity Friday to discuss the decision before its announcement, said the end to refueling wouldn't stop American training and military assistance.

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Even as President Donald Trump's administration has condemned Khashoggi's slaying, the White House has sought to preserve its relationship with Saudi Arabia.

The Pentagon has provided refueling capabilities for about 20 percent of coalition planes flying sorties over Yemen.

Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, said the killing of Jamal Khashoggi had increased pressure on the USA to pull its support for the war.

The United Arab Emirates has thrown its support behind Saudi Arabia, its main ally, over the Khashoggi affair.

On October 30, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and James Mattis, the Pentagon chief, had called for a ceasefire within 30 days and demanded that the warring parties meet the UN's Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in Sweden.

United Nations special envoy Martin Griffiths hopes to convene Yemen's warring parties for peace talks by the end of the year.

Fears for the safety of civilians have been rising since loyalist forces renewed an operation to take the city, which has been under the control of Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels since 2014.

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