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Saudi warplane crashes in Yemen, pilots evacuated

Two Saudi Arabia air force pilots were hospitalized on Sunday after their Tornado GR4 fighter bomber crashed in Yemen, the spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition said.

Colonel Turki Al-Maliki said the Saudi Royal Air Force warplane crashed due to a technical fault while conducting operations in Yemen, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.

“The command of the joint forces of the coalition has carried out a special joint operation to evacuate the pilots from the area their plane crashed. Land and air forces took part in the operation and the pilots were evacuated into the Kingdom,” he said.

The English-language Arab News on Sunday published two photos of the rescued pilots in Najran Military Hospital.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels had claimed responsibility for the crash, saying in a statement to the Al Masirah TV network that fighters shot down the plane Sunday in the northern province of Saada. On Friday, Riyadh said it intercepted a missile fired by the Houthis near the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border.

The Saudi-led alliance intervened in Yemen’s domestic conflict in March 2015 after Houthi fighters captured the capital Sanaa and other parts of the country. The Telegraph reported in May 2015 that the Saudi Royal Air Force operates more British-made Tornado GR4 and Eurofighter Typhoons in Yemen than the U.K. Royal Air Force owns. Riyadh had obtained the planes over the last 30 years after signing the Al-Yamamah arms deal with the U.K. in 1985.

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