US lawmakers aim to ground Saudi jets in Yemen war

US lawmakers aim to ground Saudi jets in Yemen war
US lawmakers are pushing for an amendment to the annual defence policy bill that will effectively ground Saudi-led coalition jets.
2 min read
03 September, 2019
The ICRC says some 130 people were killed in Saturday's airstrike [Getty]
A bipartisan group of US lawmakers is attempting a new bid to end the Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen following increased criticism of the coalition's brutal campaign.

The Saudi-led coalition bombed a Houthi rebel-run detention centre over the weekend, killing over 100 people.

The lawmakers hope to pass an amendment to the annual defence policy bill which would prohibit the US from providing logistical support for coalition airstrikes.

Such a move would effectively ground Saudi-led coalition planes, which rely on US-supplied parts.

Having already passed the House's version of the defence authorisation, members of both legislator bodies are lobbying colleagues to allow it to remain during Senate negotiations.

"Inclusion of this amendment would ensure that our men and women in uniform are not involved in a war which has never been authorised by Congress, and continues to undermine rather than advance US national security interests," the letter, which is addressed to high-ranking Democrats and Republicans on the armed services committees, adds.

After global outrage over its bombing of a prison on Sunday, the Saudi-led military claimed it was unaware that detainees were being held at the facility.

"The coalition was never informed... about the location," spokesman Turki al-Maliki told a press conference, a day after the strike which the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it feared had left some 130 detainees dead.

"The Houthis bear full responsibility for making this a location for Yemeni citizens who have been forcibly disappeared," he added. 

The UN's humanitarian coordinator in Yemen has called Sunday's air strike "horrific" and said aid groups had been forced to divert critical medical supplies, intended for treating a cholera outbreak, to Dhamar hospitals.

"We have no choice," Lise Grande said. "The scale of the casualties is staggering."

The Saudi-led military coalition intervened in support of the Yemeni government in 2015 after the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa and closed in on the government's temporary base of Aden.

Since then, the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, many of them civilians, relief agencies say.