Yemen: Moroccan F-16 reported missing, no News of Pilot
The Moroccan army announced Sunday in a statement that it has lost a fighter aircraft F-16 without specifying whether the pilot was hurt or safe while the Shiite Houthi rebels claimed to have shot down an aircraft, without any further details.
“One of the F-16s of the Royal Armed Force put at the disposal of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition to restore the legitimacy in Yemen went missing on Sunday at 6pm local time,” said the statement of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR.)
The Moroccan F-16 which was on a flying mission over Yemen was reportedly hit by ground fire.
The pilot of a second jet of the same unit could not see if the pilot managed to eject, said the FAR in the statement.
Morocco is backing the coalition made up of ten Arab countries which launched in March a military offensive against the pro-Iranian Shiite rebel Houthis and is participating in the campaign with six F-16 jets.
The Houthis, backed by forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, seized capital city Sanaa, ousted the internationally recognized but domestically contested President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and are trying to expand their hold on the entire Yemeni territory.
Morocco’s participation in the Arab force translates its geostrategic alliance with the member States of the Gulf Cooperation Council and its support to Arab efforts seeking to restore legitimacy in Yemen.
The Saudi-led coalition began carrying out airstrikes in Yemen on March 25 in response to requests for assistance from President Mansour Hadi’s government after the Houthi offensive targeted its provisional capital of Aden.
Besides Morocco, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates are also taking part in the operation. The United States, which accelerated the sale of weapons to coalition states, is providing intelligence and logistical support, including search-and-rescue for downed coalition pilots.
Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, announced last week a proposal for a five-day ceasefire to facilitate humanitarian aid to civilians, but only on the condition that the Houthis also halt the fighting.
In response to the proposal, the Houthis released a statement saying they would deal “positively” with any efforts to lift the suffering of the Yemeni people.
According to the UN, since the beginning of the offensive, some 300 000 were displaced and some 1 400 were killed.