CentCom Not Sharing Intel with Saudi Warplanes Striking Yemen
The U.S. military continues to provide refueling support for Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen, but said it has not been providing targeting intel in the wake of the strike that hit a Yemeni funeral on Saturday.
The airstrike hit a funeral hall packed with thousands of mourners in the capital city of Sanaa, killing more than 140 people and wounding hundreds, according to The New York Times.
The incident has prompted the U.S. to launch an immediate review of its support operations for the Saudi-led coalition, the Times reported.
U.S. Central Command has stressed that it is not providing intelligence of target locations in Yemen to the Saudis.
"We have not provided any kind of intel to carry out strikes," Maj. Josh Jacques, media chief at CentCom, told Military.com.
Throughout the month of September, Air Force KC-135 Stratotankers and KC-10 Extenders offloaded nearly two million pounds of fuel to nearly 200 Saudi-led coalition aircraft in the air war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
The service refueled Saudi-led aircraft as recently as Sunday, the day after the strike in Sanaa, Jacques said. There was no request, however, to refuel jets the day of the strike in Sanaa, he said.
Jacques added that Central Command has received no order to stop refueling missions in support of the Saudi coalition.
The announcement came a day after a Navy ship was apparently targeted for a second time by missiles originating from the area.
In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the radar sites struck were in territory controlled by Houthi rebels on Yemen's Red Sea coast. They were hit early Wednesday morning, at roughly 4 a.m. local time, officials said.
"Initial assessments show the sites were destroyed," Cook said in the statement.
A defense official told Military.com the attacks were conducted using sea-launched cruise missiles and originated from the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Nitze, but would not confirm the number of missiles fired, citing security reasons.
The original attacks appeared to target the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Mason, which has been patrolling near the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, and the amphibious transport dock USS Ponce, also in the region.
The strikes were recommended by Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and authorized by President Barack Obama, Cook said in the statement.
Earlier Wednesday, a military official confirmed to The Associated Press that a second round of two missiles had been fired from rebel territory at the Mason. The ship used countermeasures, the officials said, and the missiles went harmlessly into the sea.
The first two missiles targeting the Mason and the Ponce were fired Sunday, originating from the same region on the coast of Yemen.
A defense official confirmed to Military.com that the Mason had used countermeasures, firing two Standard Missile-2s and a RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile, and launching a Nulka missile decoy to lure the missiles away from the ship.
It remains unclear whether these countermeasures were successfully employed against the missiles or whether the attack failed on its own.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.
-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at Oriana.firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Editor's Note: This story was updated to correct the reference to the volume of fuel in the sixth paragraph.
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