|Published : 19 Apr 2017, 12:31:59|
Saudi military helicopter crashes in Yemen, killing 12 officers
The Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen said one of its helicopters crashed in eastern Yemen on Tuesday, killing 12 Saudi officers in one of the deadliest incidents for the kingdom's troops since the war began more than two years ago.
The Black Hawk helicopter crashed in the eastern province of Marib, the coalition said, adding that it is investigating the circumstances. The incident happened as US Defense Secretary James Mattis arrived in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to discuss the Yemen war with Saudi leaders.
The coalition of mostly Arab Sunni countries has waged a campaign to dislodge Yemeni Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, who seized Yemen's capital and some other areas in 2014 and forced the internationally-recognised government to flee the country.
The U war has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 civilians and led to the displacement of some 3 million Yemenis. Dozens of Saudi soldiers have been killed in cross-border attacks from Yemen.
The single deadliest incident for coalition forces killed 45 troops from the United Arab Emirates in September 2015, when a rebel missile hit a weapons depot — also in Marib. It was the deadliest day for its military in the UAE's 44-year history. Ten Saudis were killed in the blast too. Bahrain also lost five soldiers, though it was not clear if they were killed in the same incident.
Over the past weeks, fighting has been intensified in the western coastline regions. Coalition officials say they are preparing for an all-out assault to take control over the vital Red Sea port city of Hoedida, considered the lifeline for Houthis and their landlocked base in northern Yemen.