Escalating a diplomatic row between the two countries, Iran has accused Saudi Arabia of bombing its embassy in Yemen’s capital during its airstrike campaign against the Houthi rebels. But local residents and an Associated Press reporter on the ground say that while dozens of new airstrikes fell on Sanaa today (Jan. 7), there is no visible damage to the embassy’s building.
Iranian state media even said embassy staff have been wounded in the strike, while Sanaa residents said that a bomb fell almost 800 yards from the embassy and that only some stones and shrapnel fell into the embassy’s yard, Reuters reported.
A spokesman for the Saudi coalition said the bombing was intended to target Houthi missile launchers and that they would investigate the claim. He added that Houthis use abandoned embassies for their purposes, but it was unclear whether the Iranian embassy had been fully functioning or not.
Yemen’s civil war has been raging now for more than a year; the Sunni rulers of Saudi Arabia oppose the Tehran-backed Houthis, who are Shia as is Iran. As Quartz has reported, it has become something of a “forgotten war.”
Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia intensified recently after the Saudis executed Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shiite cleric and anti-government critic, along with 46 others accused of terrorism. Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran in response, and on Sunday, Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic ties with Iran. Iran has also announced a ban on the import of Saudi products.
There are concerns that further violence could erupt. Shia-dominated areas in eastern Saudi Arabia, the home of al-Nimr, held a three-day mourning period for the cleric. Al-Nimr has already been buried but his supporters have reportedly planned a symbolic funeral for today.