Iranian Embassy in Sanaa Targeted, Set Ablaze Amid Violent Clashes Between Rivals

The Iranian embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa was attacked with a rocket shell which caused it to burn after clashes erupted between Houthi militia and former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh supporters from the Yemeni General People’s Congress party, Al-Arabiya reports.

It is still unknown which of the clashing sides struck the embassy and whether the attack was intended or an accident. It is also unknown whether there were Iranian diplomats onsite during the attack.

A fire ripped through the Iranian embassy in Sanaa on Sunday during clashes between the Houthis and loyalists of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a Xinhua reporter on the scene witnessed. The fire broke out after the embassy was attacked by heavy weapons, but it remained unknown who was responsible for the incident. A security official said about 20 staff members of the embassy were trapped inside the building.

The embassy is located near the presidential palace and is close to the residence of a son of Saleh in southwestern Sanaa. More than 100 dead bodies could be seen lying on the streets leading to the diplomatic complex in the Hadda area. An official from the Houthi-controlled Interior Ministry told Xinhua that at least 200 militants from both warring sides had been killed and more others were wounded in the clashes near the Iranian embassy.

The embassy is located near the highlands controlled by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, where the Saudi-led coalition launched airstrikes for five times on Saturday midnight. The Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV reported late Saturday that the coalition attacked the highlands in support of the forces loyal to Saleh, who were fighting the Houthis in Sanaa.

In an interview with, the Saudi ambassador to Yemen, Mohamed al-Jaber, described the uprising in Sana’a as “supporting and benefiting the Yemeni people.” He stressed that what Yemen and Sana’a specifically are witnessing now – the uprising against the Houthis militias – is because the Houthis had revoked different agreements with different political parties in Yemen, as their only purpose is to implement the Iranian agendas. He said:

“The Houthis follow Iran and its militias, and they were used to sign agreements and revoke it until it reached almost 80 agreements – whether it was done with the former Yemeni regime or the tribes, as well as other political parties – including the peace and participation agreement.  Iran supported the Houthis by providing training and experts. The missiles launched towards Saudi Arabia were provided by Iran,” the Saudi Ambassador said.

Jaber added that Iran funded for the Houthi militias in Yemen by selling oil derivatives to the tune of $20 million, taken to the port of Hodeidah in Sana’a to be sold in the Yemeni market and then to use these funds to finance the fighting by the Iranian militias, including the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Tahir Ashrafi, the chief of the Council of Pakistani scholars, said what was happening in Yemen, in reference to clashes between Iranian-backed Houthi militias and forces loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, reflects the rupture of the Iranian project in Yemen.

A statement issued by the council’s general secretariat in Lahore said the patriotic Yemeni people have refused to stay under the authority of sectarian and terrorist Iranian militias, noting that Yemen is going through a historical phase that depicts the victory of legitimacy over terrorism and marks the beginning to an end of an era of threats of destruction, murder, destruction, and seizure of public and private property.

Ashrafi commended Saudi Arabia’s efforts and its wise decision to defend legitimacy in Yemen, adding that today we are witnessing the Arab coalition’s success in targeting the Iranian project in Yemen and paralyzing the coup.

The new change in the course of the Yemeni conflict came after Saleh and his supporters turned their weapons against the Houthi group, who had been an ally of Saleh in the battle against the Saudi-led coalition that supports the internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.  Saleh has voiced his readiness to hold talks with the coalition’s leaders to reach a compromise.

Houthi leader Abdul-Malek al-Houthi accused Saleh of “betrayal,” vowing to keep fighting against the Saudi-led coalition. The coalition later welcomed Saleh’s new stance and offered to provide support to fight the Houthi rebels, according to Al-Arabiya.

Sunday’s clashes had been raging on for hours after the Houthis claimed to have fired a long-range winged cruise missile towards the Barakah nuclear reactor in Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to a statement by the Houthi-controlled Saba news agency.

“The missile hit the target accurately in Abu Dhabi,” a Houthi military officer was quoted as saying.

But the UAE on Sunday denied the claims by the Houthi rebels while reassuring its citizens that the country is safe.  The UAE National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) said in a statement that the UAE’s air defense system “is capable of dealing with any threats.”