October 24, 2016

Saudi strike damaged Iran embassy


Iran accuses Saudis of hitting Yemen embassy.State media quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying planes had deliberately targeted the site.
But later reports in Iran said missiles struck only in the vicinity of the embassy.
Residents and witnesses in Sanaa reported there was no damage to the main embassy building.
Sanaa residents reported dozens of air strikes on Thursday by the coalition, which is battling Houthi rebels.
Residents quoted by Reuters said missiles had struck 700m (2,300 feet) from the embassy, causing shrapnel and rocks to land near the building.
A coalition spokesman said the strikes had targeted rebel missile launchers, and that the rebels had used abandoned embassies for operations.
Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia has become embroiled in a diplomatic row with Iran after a Shia cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, was executed by the Saudi authorities.
Iranian protesters in Tehran, angry at the execution, then attacked the Saudi embassy, leading Saudi Arabia to cut off diplomatic relations. A number of Saudi allies have followed suit in taking diplomatic action against Iran.
On Thursday, a statement read on Iranian state TV said the country had banned the import of all Saudi goods.
Ever since the Saudi-led air campaign began against Yemen’s Houthi rebels last March, there was always a risk that the cold war between the region’s two big rivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran, could ignite into something more serious.
The Saudis accuse Iran of smuggling in arms by sea to equip the Shia Houthis, who retain control over the capital and much of the country. Saudi officials have even claimed that Iranian military commanders are on the ground there, helping to direct the Houthis.
Both Iran and the Houthis deny this. The reality is that the Houthis owe most of their military gains to support from renegade Yemeni army units loyal to ousted ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Saudi Arabia’s military spokesman says its coalition has asked for precise co-ordinates of foreign embassies in the Yemeni capital so it can avoid hitting them. Angry as the Saudis are about the ransacking of their embassy in Tehran, it would have been a major escalation if they had carried out a deliberate, direct hit on Iran’s embassy in retaliation.
At least 2,795 civilians have been killed in Yemen since March, when the Saudi-led coalition began a military campaign to restore the government and drive back the Houthis and allied security personnel loyal to ex-President Saleh.
In the past six months, coalition and pro-government forces have retaken Aden, but the rebels still control the capital.
The already dire humanitarian situation has also deteriorated, with more than 21 million people – four-fifths of the population – now requiring aid.

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