Dozen Saudi soldiers killed in Yemen helicopter crash

The Saudi-led coalition fighting against Houthi rebels in Yemen confirmed the killing of 12 soldiers in a helicopter crash on Tuesday.

Twelve Saudi soldiers, including four officers, were killed when their helicopter went down in Yemen on Tuesday, the Arab coalition said in a statement, possibly as a result of friendly fire.

The Saudi Black Hawk “fell during operations in the province of Marib” east of Sanaa, the Saudi-led coalition said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency, without clarifying the cause.

“The causes of the incident are being investigated,” the statement added.

Coalition spokesman General Ahmed Assiri told AFP it was “too early” to comment on the causes of the crash, which is one of the deadliest incidents involving coalition forces in Yemen.

The helicotper may have been shot down by coalition anti-aircraft missiles. A senior Yemeni military source said the “the plane that was carrying the soldiers fell five kilometres from its landing point,” adding that the crash “was the result of a false reading of the air defence system,” local media reported.

The province of Marib in central Yemen serves as a practical centre for the government-backed forces in the north of the country and its Arab coalition allies.

Last year, two Emirati military aircrafts also on missions in Yemen crashed within two days of each other, killing at least four pilots.

The helicopters came down in the Gulf of Aden, according to witnesses, however a Gulf federation military command statement published on Emirati state media did not specify the details nor the circumstances and location of the crash.

The incident – described as an accident by officials – took place during “a routine sortie over international waters”.

Two other pilots were killed in a similar event just a month earlier.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are both pivotal militaries involved the Arab coalition waging war on Houthi rebels in support of the internationally recognised government in Yemen since May 2015.

The coalition has supported forces of the government since the rebels seized control of Sanaa and other parts of the country in September 2014.