Saudi-led coalition in Yemen denies Iran embassy attack accusation

Iranian deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said a rocket had fallen near his country's diplomatic mission in Sanna, but on Thursday the building was still standing and there were no visible signs of damage.

Yemeni security forces loyal to president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi guard Aden's international airport after being handed responsibility for the facility's security by resistance fighters on January 7, 2016. Saleh Al Obeidi/AFP Photo
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TEHRAN // The Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen on Thursday denied an accusation by Tehran that its warplanes had targeted the Iranian embassy in Sanaa.

An investigation found that “the allegations are false and that no operations were carried out around the embassy or near to it”, the coalition said.

“It also confirms the embassy building is safe and has not been damaged.”

Earlier, Iran said it would protest to the United Nations Security Council after it accused Saudi warplanes of deliberately bombing its embassy in the Yemeni capital overnight.

Iranian deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said a rocket had fallen near the embassy, but on Thursday the building was still standing and there were no visible signs of damage. The neighbourhood in the Yemeni capital has previously been targeted by the coalition because it is home to several strategic sites.

Coalition spokesman Brig Gen Ahmed Al Assiri said its jets carried out heavy strikes in Sanaa on Wednesday night to target missile launchers used by Houthi rebels to fire at Saudi Arabia, but that accusations made on the basis of information provided by the Houthis “have no credibility”. He said the coalition had asked all countries to supply it with co-ordinates for the locations of their diplomatic missions.

Iran backs the Shiite Houthis in the Yemeni conflict, while the coalition seeks to restore the internationally recognised government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi to power.

The rebels have seized large parts of Yemen, including the capital.

Tehran’s accusation came amid a rise in tensions between Tehran and Riyadh in recent days after attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran. The attacks were carried out by protesters angry at the kingdom’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia said it had shot down a missile fired into the kingdom from nearby Yemen on Thursday morning.

The Saudi military said it intercepted the missile in the province of Jizan and later attacked and destroyed the platform that launched the missile in Yemen, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.

Elsewhere, pro-government Yemeni forces landed by sea at the northern Red Sea port of Maydee near the border with Saudi Arabia late on Wednesday, opening up a new front in the war. Northern Yemen is a stronghold of the Houthis.

The pro-Hadi forces attempted to push from Maydee’s port, pounded for weeks by air strikes and naval shelling, into the surrounding city, but ran into heavy Houthi resistance and landmines.

Major General Adel Qumairi told Saudi-owned Arabiya TV that his pro-government forces had “completely taken control” of the city.

In the southern city of Aden, resistance fighters – who are battling the Houthis – on Thursday morning handed over control of the international airport to the provincial government. The fighters had held the airport since Aden was liberated from the rebels last July.

* Agencies