Iran Accuses Saudi Arabia of Bombing Its Embassy in Yemen

Iran says missiles from Saudi coalition warplanes hit its embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, which was hit overnight with the heaviest aerial bombardment in nine months of war.
January 7, 2016, 11:40am
The remains of a building destroyed by airstrikes in Sanaa in June 2015. Photo by Yahya Arhab/EPA

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Missiles fired by the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in Yemen have hit Iran's embassy in the capital Sanaa, Iran claimed on Thursday.

"Saudi Arabia is responsible for the damage to the embassy building and the injury to some of its staff," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari was quoted as saying by state television news channel IRIB.

A Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Yemen since March, in an attempt to repel the Shia rebel Houthi movement, which is allied with Iran. Dozens of airstrikes hit Sanaa overnight on Wednesday, in what residents described as the heaviest aerial attacks there in nine months of war.

Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri said Iran's claims would be investigated.

Residents and witnesses in Sanaa said there was no damage to the embassy building in Hadda district.

They said an air strike had hit a public square about 700 meters away from the embassy and that some stones and shrapnel had landed in the embassy's yard.

Coalition jets carried out the heavy strikes to target missile launchers used by the Houthi militia to fire at Saudi Arabia, said Asseri, adding that the group has used civilian facilities, including abandoned embassies.

Asseri said the coalition had requested all countries to supply it with coordinates of the location of their diplomatic missions and that accusations made on the basis of information provided by the Houthis "have no credibility."

Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the Middle East's leading Shia and Sunni Muslim powers, and historic rivals, have seriously escalated since Saudi Arabia executed the dissident Shia cleric Nimr al Nimr last Saturday.

After Iranian demonstrators stormed Tehran's Saudi embassy in protest, Saudi Arabia cut all ties with Iran. Bahrain, Sudan, and Kuwait have also scaled back diplomatic relations with Iran in solidarity.

Iran's government also banned on Thursday all imports of products made in Saudi Arabia, Iranian student news agency ISNA reported.

Nearly 6,000 people have been killed since Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Sunni nation allies started airstrikes in Yemen in March 2015, almost half of them civilians. The war has exacerbated hunger and disease in Yemen, the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country.