Yemeni authorities say Saudi airstrike killed 31

FILE – In this Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, file photo, a Yemeni soldier allied to the country’s internationally recognized government unslings his machine gun on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell, File)

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Reports out of Yemen alleged a Syrian airstrike that killed dozens of people, in what has been described as a retaliatory act. The United Nations said as many as 31 Yemeni civilians died in airstrikes on Saturday that the country’s Houthi movement claimed were retaliation by a Saudi-led coalition.

“This is a farmer’s car who was going to Sanaa and he was targeted on the way,” stated an Arabic civilian.

In the latest flare-up in the five year Yemen conflict, the Iran-aligned Houthis claimed to have shot down a coalition Tornado warplane in the Houthi-controlled Al-Jawf province. They also released a video purporting to show a missile hitting the jet.

The area’s health ministry said women and children were among those killed in the subsequent coalition airstrikes. The UN office in Yemen stated preliminary field reports indicated 12 injured as well as up to 31 civilians have been killed.

Yemenis walk past rubble after deadly airstrikes in and near the presidential compound, in Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, May. 7, 2018. Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Shiite rebels targeted the presidency building in the heart of the Yemeni capital on Monday, leaving at least six people dead and some 30 wounded, according to health officials. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki said on Saturday that only a Tornado warplane had crashed in Al-Jawf. Maliki later said rescue operations had been launched and that the possibility of “collateral damages” had been reported, without providing details.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 in support of the internationally-recognized government, which the Houthis ousted from the capital Sanaa in 2014.

The conflict has been widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its regional foe, Iran.

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Tulsi Gabbard accuses White House of defending Saudi kingdom after NAS Pensacola shooting: ‘Saudi Arabia is not our ally’

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Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, on Tuesday slammed the Trump administration, claiming it defended the Saudi kingdom in the wake of last week’s deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.

She also accused President Trump of failing to speak up for “for those families who just lost their loved ones.”

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”This was a terrorist attack that took the lives of three American service members and injured eight others,” Gabbard said in an interview on Hill.TV's “Rising.” “We need to call it for what it is instead of what President Trump has done with his own remarks, with Secretary Pompeo basically putting out messages as though they are the spokespersons for the Saudi kingdom rather than standing up for our country’s national security and what’s in the best interest of our country.”

“Saudi Arabia is not our ally. As president, I will state that very clearly and they will continue to not be our ally as long as they are both directly and indirectly supporting terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda and others,” Gabbard said.

Also Tuesday, the Pentagon suspended all 852 Saudi military students at NAS Pensacola after a gunman opened fire there last week, killing three military members and injuring eight others before being shot dead by police. The FBI later identified the shooter as 21-year-old Saudi Royal Air Force Second Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani. The attack has prompted a broader Defense Department review of all international training on U.S. military bases.

After the attack, President Trump tweeted that he had spoken with Saudi Arabia's King Salman.

“King Salman of Saudi Arabia just called to express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies to the families and friends of the warriors who were killed and wounded in the attack that took place in Pensacola, Florida….” Trump tweeted Friday. “The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people.”
In his initial reaction to the shooting, Trump said: “Just received a full briefing on the tragic shooting at NAS Pensacola in Florida, and spoke to @GovRonDeSantis. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time. We are continuing to monitor the situation as the investigation is ongoing.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also tweeted last week.

“I just spoke with Foreign Minister Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia who expressed his condolences and sadness at the loss of life in the horrific attack in Pensacola, Florida yesterday. The families and friends of those killed, and those wounded, will be in our thoughts and prayers,” Pompeo wrote.

Trump has faced backlash in the past over his support for the Saudi royal family in the wake of the slaying of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, who was allegedly killed and dismembered by Saudi operatives inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last year.

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On Monday, Gabbard – a vocal critic of the Saudi kingdom in the past — announced she won’t be attending the Democrats’ next debate “regardless” of whether she qualifies for the Dec. 19 event in Los Angeles. She had met the donor requirement to qualify for the debate but had yet to meet a requirement that she earn 4-percent support in at least four national or early-state polls approved by the Democratic National Committee [DNC] — or hit 6 percent in two approved early-state polls. The cutoff date is Wednesday.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson, Bradford Betz and Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.

Original Article

Saudi Arabia ‘will be involved in taking care’ of Pensacola shooting victims’ families, Trump says

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The leaders of Saudi Arabia are devastated by the deadly attack at the Pensacola naval base in Florida and intend to “help out” the families of those murdered, President Trump announced Saturday.

“The king will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones,” Trump said after speaking to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman by phone. “He feels very strongly. He’s very, very devastated by what happened and what took place. Likewise the Crown Prince (Mohammed bin Salman).”

The suspected shooter is a Saudi Air Force aviation officer who was training at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola.

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Trump said the Saudi leaders “are devastated by what took place in Pensacola. I think they are going to help out the families very greatly.”

The announcement of potential assistance comes after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saudi Arabia owed a debt to the families.

“Obviously, the government … needs to make things better for these victims. I think they’re going to owe a debt here, given that this was one of their individuals,” DeSantis said at a news conference Friday.

The attack unfolded Friday morning at the waterfront base when the shooter opened fire with a handgun in a training classroom. The attack prompted a massive law enforcement response and put the base on lockdown.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed to Fox News that three of the victims were Americans. Family members identified one of them as Joshua Watson, a 23-year-old recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who is credited with taking life-saving actions in his final moments of life after being shot five times by the Saudi national.

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Both Esper and Trump have declined to call the attack an act of terror.

“I can’t say it’s terrorism at this time,” Esper told Fox News’ Bret Baier on Saturday, saying that the FBI and investigators must do their work.

The suspected shooter, who was killed by a sheriff’s deputy, was in the United States for military training. The U.S. has a long-standing program to teach foreign nationals how to operate American-made military equipment purchased by their governments.

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Trump said the U.S. would “immediately” conduct a review of the training procedures and pledged to “get to the bottom” of what happened.

He signaled that investigators are trying to determine whether the shooter acted alone or planned the attack with others.

“We are finding out what took place,” Trump said, “whether it’s one person or a number of people.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article