Saudi Arabia says fighter jet crashed during Yemen mission

Coalition says pilots ejected before the crash but their fate remains unknown

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A Saudi fighter jet crashed in Yemen's Jawf province while carrying out a combat mission on Friday, with the fate of the crew unknown.

Saudi Arabia said the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen opened fire on the Tornado jet's crew, who ejected before the crash.

“The Joint Forces Command of the Coalition holds the terrorist Houthi militia responsible for the lives and well-being of the air crew under the international humanitarian law," Coalition spokesman Col Turki Al Malki told the Saudi Press Agency.

"The air crew, consisting of two officers, used ejector seats to escape the plane before it crashed.

"At the same time the terrorist Houthi militia opened fire at the air crew, which is a violation of the customary international humanitarian law.

"As such, the lives and well-being of the air crew is the responsibility of the terrorist Houthi militia.”

The Tornado fighter jet went down at 11.45pm while "providing close air support to units of the Yemeni National Army", Col Al Malki said.

He did not mention the fate of the two crew.

The Saudi-led Arab military coalition intervened in Yemen's civil war in March 2015 at the request of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi after the Iran-backed rebels forced his government to flee the capital, Sanaa.

Saudi Arabia's air force has about 80 of the European-made Tornado fighters in service, aviation website FlightGlobal says.