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US certifies Saudi Arabia, UAE protecting civilians in Yemen

US certifies Saudi Arabia, UAE protecting civilians in Yemen

WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday he has told Congress that the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE are doing enough to protect civilians amid their military operations to end the civil war in Yemen.

Pompeo said in a statement Wednesday he certified that the Saudi and Emirati governments “are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure.” 

He said ending the conflict has been “a national security priority” for President Donald Trump.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last month the US intended to continue backing the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen despite civilian casualties. He said Wednesday he agrees the Saudi and Emirati governments are making “every effort to reduce the risk of civilian casualties.”

US lawmakers included a measure in this year's defense spending bill that required Pompeo to certify by Wednesday whether the Arab coalition were taking meaningful measures to reduce civilian casualties and allow humanitarian aid.

Mattis said he backed Pompeo's finding that Saudi Arabia and UAE “are making every effort to reduce the risk of civilian casualties and collateral damage to civilian infrastructure resulting from their military operations to end the civil war in Yemen.”

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