Friday 2 December 2016

Iran accuses Saudis of bombing its embassy in Yemen

Louisa Loveluck in London

Published 08/01/2016 | 02:30

Supporters of the Houthi movement protest against the execution of Shi'ite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia, during a demonstration outside the Saudi embassy in Sanaa, Yemen. Photo: Reuters
Supporters of the Houthi movement protest against the execution of Shi'ite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia, during a demonstration outside the Saudi embassy in Sanaa, Yemen. Photo: Reuters

Iran has accused Saudi-led coalition warplanes of bombing its embassy in Yemen, deepening an already poisonous rift between the two countries.

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A spokesman for Iran's foreign minister, Hossein Jaber Ansari, blamed Saudi Arabia for "damage to the embassy building and the injury to some of its staff". But residents in the capital, Sanaa, said an air strike had missed the compound by 700 yards.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have been fighting a proxy war in Yemen for nine months, with Riyadh leading bombing raids against Iran-backed rebels who forced the country's internationally-recognised president into exile in March last year.

Simmering tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia came to the boil last week, following Riyadh's announcement that it had executed a Shia cleric whose fate Tehran had followed closely. On Saturday night, mobs torched the Saudi embassy and consulate in the Iranian capital, prompting Riyadh and several of its Gulf and African allies to sever or downgrade diplomatic relations with Tehran.

Although a reporter in Sanaa said he saw no damage to the Iranian embassy there yesterday, the provocation of a nearby strike was enough to prompt further retaliation from the Iranian government. "The cabinet has banned the entry of all Saudi products and products from Saudi Arabia," it said in a statement, noting that a ban on Iranians travelling to the Saudi holy city of Mecca for the umrah pilgrimage was also in place "until further notice".

Human rights organisations have accused the Saudi-led coalition of indiscriminate bombing in Yemen. Almost 6,000 people have been killed and schools, hospitals and public weddings have been targeted.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has been accused of squandering nearly £400m (€540m) in taxpayers' aid to Yemen through its support for the Saudi-led military offensive in the country's civil war. Britain has not only sold Saudi Arabia weapons that have allegedly been used, but also supports Riyadh diplomatically, despite claims by aid agencies that Saudi forces are making the situation worse. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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