As Yemen's War Worsens, Questions Grow About The U.S. Role : Parallels The U.S. has been supporting Saudi Arabia's bombing campaign in Yemen for more than a year. An airstrike that killed at least 140 people at a funeral has renewed a debate about U.S. involvement.
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As Yemen's War Worsens, Questions Grow About The U.S. Role

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As Yemen's War Worsens, Questions Grow About The U.S. Role

As Yemen's War Worsens, Questions Grow About The U.S. Role

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

There were devastating photos coming out of Yemen this weekend - men, women and children killed in airstrikes on a funeral. More than 140 people died. That's increased pressure on the Obama administration to stop assisting the Saudi-led military campaign.

That campaign is blamed for the attack. It's part of a war against Yemeni rebels in which the U.N. says more than 10,000 people have died. NPR's Jackie Northam has more.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: Saturday's devastating airstrike was on a funeral in Yemen's capital city of Sana'a, where hundreds of mourners, including children, were gathered. It was the deadliest attack in Yemen since the Saudi-led air campaign began a year and a half ago to drive out Houthi rebels that have taken over the capital.

CHRIS MURPHY: This should be what finally prompts us to get out of this civil war, which is simply - it has nothing to do with U.S. national security interests.

NORTHAM: Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut tells NPR the U.S. is increasingly embroiled in Yemen's civil war and has become an indispensable partner to Saudi Arabia in its bombing campaign there.

MURPHY: The United States provides the bombs. We provide the refueling planes in mid-air. We provide the intel. I think it's safe to say that this bombing campaign in Yemen could not happen without the United States.

NORTHAM: The White House quickly denounced the attack on the funeral. It warned the U.S. security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check and is reconsidering its support. State Department spokesman John Kirby...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN KIRBY: In light of the attack over the weekend, with the scrutiny that that attack legitimately calls for, we are going to undertake additional reviews of aid and assistance that goes to Saudi Arabia.

NORTHAM: Kirby says the Obama administration is not at this point certain that the attack over the weekend wasn't deliberate and that it's concerned about the increasing number of civilian casualties in Yemen caused by U.S.-made weapons. Kirby again...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KIRBY: We have been nothing but candid and forthright with the Saudis about our concerns over civilian casualties and collateral damage and our concerns about lack of precision in the conduct of some of these strikes.

NORTHAM: Saudi Arabia initially denied its coalition jets were behind the deadly airstrike, then announced it would launch an investigation of its own coalition into what it called a regrettable and painful bombing. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington.

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