ALEXANDRIA: Arab coalition airstrikes have killed an Iranian military officer who was an adviser to the Iran-backed Houthis during their deadly offensive on the central province of Marib, Yemen’s Information Minister, Muammar Al-Eryani, said on Saturday.
The advisor, Haidar Serjan, and nine other combatants were killed on Friday night in the coalition’s airstrikes during fighting in Marib’s Serwah district.
Serjan first offered military advice to the Houthis during battles along the country’s western coast till June 5, 2012. He was sent to the Marib battlefields to replace Hezbollah military expert Mustaf Al-Gharwi, who was killed in another airstrike, Al-Eryani said.
“Iran has sent hundreds of Revolutionary Guards experts, led military operations in the field and smuggled various types of weapons, including ballistic missiles and drones, confirming the nature of the battle as an extension of Iranian expansionist and influence project in the region,” the minister said on Twitter.
He demanded more international pressure on Iran to stop fueling violence in Yemen.
“We urge the international community, UN, and permanent Security Council members to adopt a firm stand against Iran’s blatant interference in Yemeni affairs, its role in escalating military operations and undermining peace efforts, responsibility for bloodshed, and exacerbation of humanitarian suffering of Yemenis,” Al-Eryani said.
Thousands of Houthis and many foreign fighters and advisers have been killed since February when the rebels resumed an offensive to capture the oil-rich city of Marib.
Even before the Houthi takeover of power in late 2014, the Yemeni government accused the Iranian regime of sending arms shipments, funds and military experts to shore up the Houthis.
In November last year, the Yemeni army announced that two Hezbollah military experts were killed after Arab coalition warplanes targeted a training camp outside Houthi-held Sanaa.
The Houthis, who have long denied receiving military support from Iran, recently admitted they received some military know-how from Iranian military experts.
“We benefited from Iranian experiences in the military field. We do not deny that. We thank Iran for that support,” Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam told Iran’s Al-Alam television early this month.
Yemeni military analysts and commanders who are battling the Houthis on the ground said that Iran has supplied the Yemeni militia with advanced weapons, drones, ballistic missiles and even light weapons and ammunition.
Col Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni army spokesman in the southern city of Taiz, told Arab News that Iran appointed a Revolutionary Guard official as its envoy in the Houthi-controlled areas, provided them with smart weapons, communication technology, reconnaissance and espionage systems, funds and even sought to spread its ideologies in Yemen.
“Iran supplied the Houthis with experts and all weapons from rifles to ballistic missiles and drones,” Al-Baher said.