Saudi Arabia issues royal pardon for soldiers fighting in Yemen
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday issued a sweeping royal pardon for its soldiers deployed in Yemen, lifting any "military and disciplinary" penalties for troops taking part in its support of pro-government forces in the devastating conflict.
Yemeni government forces, backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are battling Houthi rebels in fighting that has killed some 10,000 Yemeni citizens and pushed the impoverished country to the brink of famine.
A statement announcing the pardon, published by Saudi Arabia's government news agency SPA, did not mention any particular crimes, but said the move was to show appreciation for the "heroics and sacrifices" of the country's soldiers.
The statement announced the order "pardoning all military men, who have taken part in the Operation Restoring Hope of their respective military and disciplinary penalties, in regard of some rules and disciplines".
Riyadh, the UAE and other allies intervened in the conflict between Yemen's government and rebels in March 2015, aiming to push back the Houthis and restore the internationally recognised government to power.
All sides to the conflict have been accused of human rights abuses.
Riyadh accuses its regional rival Tehran of supplying the Houthis with ballistic missiles, a charge Iran denies.
At least 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen's civil war, which has displaced two million people, helped spawn a cholera epidemic, and created the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN.
Saudi-led airstrikes have killed large numbers of civilians and damaged vital infrastructure.
The coalition also has blocked most ports, letting supplies into Hodeida in coordination with the UN.
The air campaign and fighting have disrupted other supply lines, causing an economic crisis that makes food too expensive for many to afford.