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Witnesses Discount Iran's Claims of Saudi Airstrike on Embassy in Yemen

  • VOA News

Witnesses in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, discounted Iranian claims Thursday that Saudi Arabia hit Tehran's embassy there in an overnight airstrike.

Iran accused Saudi Arabia of "deliberately" hitting the diplomatic outpost.

But witnesses in Sana'a said there was no visible damage to the building, just some stones and shrapnel that apparently landed in the embassy's yard after a Saudi airstrike hit a public square about 700 meters from the embassy.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari said the alleged air attacks in Sana'a were "a violation of all international conventions that protect diplomatic missions," according to state television.

"Saudi Arabia is responsible for the damage to the embassy building and the injury to some of its staff," he said. His statement did not specify who was wounded or to what extent.

Saudi Arabia is carrying out a campaign of airstrikes in Yemen in support of forces fighting against Iranian-backed Houthi Shi'ite rebels. Riyadh has not commented on the Iranian accusations.

An Iranian riot policeman stands guard as protesters hold street signs with the name of Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during a demonstration condemning his execution in Saudi Arabia, outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy, in Tehran, Jan., 3, 2016.

An Iranian riot policeman stands guard as protesters hold street signs with the name of Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during a demonstration condemning his execution in Saudi Arabia, outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy, in Tehran, Jan., 3, 2016.

Import ban

Also Thursday, Iran's cabinet banned the import of all products from Saudi Arabia, according to a government statement. Iran imports about $60 million worth of products from Saudi Arabia annually, mostly packing materials and textiles. Tehran said nothing about its $130 million annual export business with the Saudis, mostly steel, cement and agricultural products.

Tehran also adopted a ban on Iranians traveling to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

The developments come after Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran last week following violent protests at the Saudi embassy in Tehran. The protesters were upset over the Saudi execution of prominent Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was critical of the Riyadh kingdom.

Several Arab countries have since severed diplomatic relations with Iran, in solidarity with Saudi Arabia. Other nations have downgraded ties with Tehran.

Somalia cut its diplomatic ties with Iran on Thursday, accusing Tehran of trying to destabilize it by sending its operatives into Somalia to create armed groups and "secret missionaries" to convert Somalis to the Shi'ite doctrine.

Somalia gave Iranian diplomats 72 hours to leave the Horn of Africa nation and recalled its acting ambassador from Tehran.

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