October 27, 2016

Saudi-led coalition, Yemen deny Iran embassy hit in Sanaa

Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia arose following the execution of Shi’ite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi-led coalition and Yemen’s foreign ministry denied Iran’s accusation that Saudi warplanes had hit its embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.

Iran on Thursday said the warplanes had attacked its embassy in Yemen’s capital on Wednesday night, an accusation that exacerbated tension between the major Shi’ite and Sunni powers in the region.

“The coalition command confirmed that these (Iranian) allegations are false and void, stressing that it does not carry out any operations in the vicinity of the embassy or near it,” a statement on the state Saudi news agency SPA said late on Thursday.

It also urged diplomatic missions in Sanaa not to offer militias an opportunity “to use diplomatic missions’ buildings in any military action.”

Residents and witnesses in Sanaa had told Reuters there was no damage to the Iranian embassy building.

Yemen’s foreign ministry also denied the embassy building had been targeted, according to the Saudi-allied, government-run state news agency, sabanew.net.

The official foreign ministry source cited on sabanew.net said responsibility for the protection of diplomatic missions in Sanaa lay with the Houthi militia, who are in control of Sanaa, and their allies, forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

A growing diplomatic dispute between Riyadh and Tehran, triggered by Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite cleric, has damaged the outlook for any resolution to the conflict in Yemen, where a coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been fighting the Shi’ite, Iran-allied Houthi movement.

While Riyadh sees the Houthis as a proxy for bitter regional rival Iran to expand its influence, the Houthis deny this and say they are fighting a revolution against a corrupt government and Gulf Arab powers beholden to the West.

Separately, SPA said late on Thursday that three people were killed and nine wounded when “military projectiles” fired from Yemen landed in the Saudi southwestern region of Jazan.

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