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Morocco to pull warplanes from Saudi-led coalition

Morocco is reportedly to pull its warplanes out of a Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which has been pounding Yemen for more than three years now, citing a need for military buildup at home.

The coalition invaded the Arab world’s most impoverished nation in March 2015 to put its Riyadh-allied former government back in the saddle. It has fallen short of the objective, while thousands have been killed and displaced as a result of the invasion.

The F16 aircraft are to be repatriated as the Army has been placed on high alert over heightened militancy in Western Sahara, the regional English-language The North Africa Post newspaper said on Saturday, citing Internet outlets.

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The Polisario Front militants aim to end Morocco’s presence in the Saharan region. They recently said they sought to set up a “capital” in the region, prompting Rabat to caution it would respond with force.

The announcement violates a 1991 United Nations-brokered truce between the militants and Moroccan forces. In line with the agreement, the final status of the disputed territory is to be decided by a referendum, which has never gone underway.

Moroccan media have, meanwhile, been speculating about future airstrikes by the military to contain the militancy.

The news about the upcoming withdrawal of the warplanes from the coalition came as anti-war and rights groups around the world are urging the United States and its allies to stop their arms sales to the countries waging the war on Yemen.

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Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Belgium have almost halted their weapons exports to Saudi Arabia over the invasion. The US, Britain, and France have, however, kept the arms flow, with Washington and London even beefing up their Saudi weapons deals since the onset of the warfare.

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