Yemen accuses Hezbollah of backing Huthi rebels

Friday 19/02/2016
Serious accusations

ADEN (Yemen) - Yemen's embattled government accused Lebanon's Hezbollah Shiite militia on Wednesday of sending fighters to support Iran-backed Huthi rebels controlling parts of the war-ravaged country including the capital.

The government has evidence of "Hezbollah's involvement in the Huthi war against the Yemeni people," its spokesman Rajih Badi said in a statement published by the official website.

Hezbollah militants are present in "the battlefields along the border with Saudi Arabia," where attacks from Yemen have killed about 90 civilians and soldiers in the kingdom since March last year, said Badi.

Hezbollah is taking part in the Yemeni war on the ground by training the Shiite Huthis and orchestrating attacks against Saudi Arabia, said Badi, urging "international legal measures" against the movement.

"This evidence is documented and Hezbollah cannot deny its role in the destruction it is contributing to through the clear moral and logistic support" for the rebels, said Badi.

Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab coalition battling the Huthis and their allies since last March in support of the government.

The United Nations says the war has left more than 6,000 people dead.

The government moved to the southern city of Aden after the Huthis captured the capital Sanaa in 2014.

However, most of its senior officials, including President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, spend most of their time in Riyadh against a backdrop of worsening security.

Riyadh said last week it had halted a $3 billion military funding programme for Beirut in response to "hostile" positions linked to Hezbollah, which is also fighting opponents of the Syrian regime.

In a statement, Iran-backed Hezbollah said Saudi Arabia stopped the military aid because of economic pressures from the war in Yemen and lower oil revenues.

Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with its regional rival Tehran last month after demonstrators stormed its embassy and a consulate following the Saudi execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.