DUBAI (Reuters) - The Saudi cabinet announced a pay increase of up to 60 percent for air force pilots on Monday, state news agency SPA reported, as a military campaign led by the kingdom in neighboring 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 member of the U.S.-led alliance against Islamic State in Syria.
The cabinet amended laws pertaining to military officers, allowing air force pilots and weapons operators to receive a 35 percent rise on basic salary, said in a statement. The increase for officers flying fighter jets and operating their weapons systems will be 60 percent, it said.
No reason was given for the move, 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 restore to power internationally recognized president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Reporting by Noah Browning; editing by John Stonestreet