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Saudi pilots get 60 percent pay rise as Yemen war rages

Cabinet says air force officers to receive huge salary increase as Riyadh prosecutes air war in Yemen that has killed thousands
Officers get 60 percent rise, juniors 35 percent (AFP)

Saudi fighter pilots are to receive a pay rises of up to 60 percent, as a military campaign led by the kingdom in neighbouring Yemen entered its third year.

Saudi Arabia and its mostly Gulf Arab allies have launched thousands of air strikes in an attempt to dislodge Yemen's armed Houthi movement from the capital Sanaa.

The kingdom is also a member of the US-led alliance against Islamic State in Syria.

State news agencies said the Saudi cabinet amended laws pertaining to military officers, allowing air force pilots and weapons operators to receive a 35 percent rise on basic salary. The increase for officers flying fighter jets and operating their weapons systems will be 60 percent, it said.

No reason was given for the huge rise, nor an indication of what their current salaries might be.

The world's biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia has implemented some austerity measures to wean its citizens off decades of government largesse.

But the kingdom remains determined to prevail in the war next door, where at least 10,000 people have been killed according to United Nations figures, and last year exempted active soldiers from cuts to annual leave and bonuses.

Rights groups say the Saudi-led coalition's air campaign has included hits on hospitals, schools, markets, factories and homes, killing hundreds of civilians in what they say may constitute war crimes.

The coalition denies deliberately targeting innocents and accuses the Houthis of using civilian installations to conceal weapons and launch missile attacks against the kingdom with help from the Saudis' arch-rival Iran, a charge Tehran denies.

Its campaign seeks to oust the Houthis and forces allied to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, which control capital Sanaa, and restore to power internationally recognised President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.