Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the Saudi charge d’affaires on Friday to protest Riyadh’s interception of two Iranian planes carrying humanitarian aid to Yemen, the Students News Agency ISNA reported.
ISNA said two Iranian cargo planes carrying food and medicine to Yemen had been forced by Saudi jets to leave Yemeni airspace, one on Thursday and another on Friday.
“Unfortunately, Saudi fighter jets have blocked two Iranian planes, which were carrying wounded Yemenis who had been treated in Iran and also carrying humanitarian and medical aid, from landing in Yemen and forced them to return home,” ISNA quoted an unnamed Iranian official as telling the Saudi diplomat.
“This is brazen interference in Yemen’s state affairs and also a violation of Yemen’s airspace.”
The United States and Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia have accused Shi’ite Iran of arming Houthi rebels. Iran denies this and has repeatedly called for a political solution to restore peace in Yemen.
Tasnim news agency said the foreign ministry also had complained to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) over Riyadh’s blocking of the humanitarian aid sent to Yemen.
“The Iranian planes had the necessary permissions for flying the Oman-Yemen air route and had fully coordinated the plan with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent societies,” it quoted deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian as saying.
Tehran welcomed Sunni-led Saudi Arabia’s announcement on Tuesday that it was ending almost a month of air strikes against the Shi’ite Muslim Houthi rebels allied to Tehran, saying the conflict in Yemen would fuel sectarian disputes in the Middle East.
Riyadh resumed air strikes and ground fighting a few hours later. The International Red Cross described the humanitarian situation as “catastrophic.”