Iran supplying weapons to Yemen's Houthi rebels: France FM

Iran supplying weapons to Yemen's Houthi rebels: France FM
France accused Iran of supplying weapons to Houthi rebels fighting a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, reports said on Thursday.

2 min read
29 March, 2018
Houthi rebels overran the capital and other parts of Yemen in September 2014 [Getty]
Yemen's Houthi rebels are receiving weapons from Iran, France alleged on Thursday, as the deadly Saudi-led coalition war surpasses the three-year mark.

"There is a problem in Yemen, it is that the political process has not begun, that Saudi Arabia feels regularly attacked by the Houthis, who are themselves supplied with arms by Iran," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio.

Iran has repeatedly denied arming the Houthis in Yemen, despite claims by the United States and Saudi Arabia that the evidence of an arms connection is irrefutable.

On Monday, the Saudi-led coalition threatened retaliation against arch-foe Iran, accusing it of being behind a barrage of Yemeni rebel missile attacks on the kingdom.

The UN Security Council condemned "in the strongest possible terms" the missile attacks launched by the Houthis on Saudi Arabia, saying they posed a threat to regional security.

On Sunday, Saudi forces intercepted seven missiles fired by the Houthi rebels toward cities in the kingdom, including the capital Riyadh, killing one person.

The kingdom said the missiles belonged to Iran, but Tehran hit back at the claims.

"These war-mongering and irresponsible remarks can be followed up legally at the international level," said foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi in a statement.

"The aim of such claims by Saudi Arabia is to divert public opinion from the atrocities (they) are committing in Yemen," added Yadollah Javani, a political officer for Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, according to the conservative Tasnim news agency.

"The reality is that the nation of Yemen is standing up to Saudi aggression and has managed to build defence tools by relying on its own capabilities, including missile power, and this is the very thing Saudi Arabia never imagined," he added.

Javani said it was impossible to send weapons to Yemen due to the blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition, which has been engaged in an aerial bombing campaign against the Houthis since 2015.

The coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 to push back the Houthis who captured the capital Sanaa and forced the government into exile.

More than 10,000 Yemenis have been killed in the war that has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis by the UN.

Some 22.2 million people are in need of aid, there is a growing risk of famine and a severe outbreak of cholera.

Riyadh insists the coalition respects its obligations under international humanitarian law.