Saudi-led coalition rejects Iran charges on Yemen envoy

A soldier loyal to Yemen's Huthi rebels inspects the rubble of a building destroyed following a reported air strike by the Saudi-led coalition targeting the Huthi rebel-held Yemeni capital's Sanaa International Airport on December 21, 2021.(Photo: AFP)
RIYADH — The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen on Wednesday rejected accusations that it was slow to facilitate the evacuation from Sanaa of an Iranian diplomat who later died of coronavirus.اضافة اعلان

The Islamic republic's envoy to Yemen, Hassan Eyrlou, died on Tuesday despite being flown out from the Huthi rebel-held capital in a rare exemption from a Saudi-led air blockade. 

But the foreign ministry in Tehran blamed the "slow cooperation of certain countries" in facilitating Saturday's evacuation for Eyrlou's death.   
Coalition spokesman Turki Al-Maliki on Wednesday condemned Iran's "defamatory" comments.

"The coalition has facilitated and provided all necessary transit permits as well as logistical support," he said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

"It had facilitated the evacuation on humanitarian grounds, and in recognition of the diplomatic mediation by Oman and Iraq in less than 48 hours of reporting (Eyrlou's) health condition."

The diplomat served as ambassador to the rebel-installed administration in Sanaa, which is recognized only by Tehran.

Eyrlou was flown out of Sanaa on an Iraqi flight after his rebel hosts secured authorization from the Saudi-led coalition, which has enforced an air and sea blockade on rebel-held territory since August 2016.

Regional rivals Riyadh and Tehran support opposite sides in several conflict zones across the region, including in Yemen.

Riyadh has said that its 2015 intervention in Yemen in support of the beleaguered government was aimed at preventing an Iranian ally taking power on its doorstep.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced in Yemen's conflict, in what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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