WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis defended US military support to Saudi Arabian-led coalition forces in Yemen on Thursday as he explained a personal appeal to lawmakers who are considering whether to end Washington's involvement in the devastating conflict.
The Trump administration has been warning Saudi Arabia since last year that concern in Congress over the humanitarian situation in Yemen, including civil casualties in the war, could constrain US assistance.
Since it began in 2015, the conflict has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than 2 million and driven Yemen – already the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula – to the verge of widespread famine.
Mattis said the US assistance, which includes limited intelligence support and refueling of coalition jets, was ultimately aimed at bringing the war toward a negotiated, UN-brokered resolution.
"We need to get this to a negotiated settlement, and we believe our policy right now is correct for doing this," Mattis told reporters, as he flew back to Washington from the Middle East.