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Iran accuses Saudi Arabia of deliberately bombing embassy in Yemen

Iran has accused Saudi Arabian warplanes of striking its embassy in Yemen, in what would be a serious escalation. A human rights organization also accused the Saudi-led coalition of using cluster munitions in Sanaa.

Iran on Thursday accused Saudi Arabian jets of deliberately bombing its embassy in Yemen's capital Sanaa as

tension between the two regional rivals escalates.

"Saudi Arabia is responsible for the damage to the embassy building and the injury to some of its staff," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari was quoted as saying by state television news channel IRIB.

"This deliberate action by Saudi Arabia is a violation of all international conventions that protect diplomatic missions," he added.

Witnesses in Sanaa said the Iranian embassy had no visible damage, but that debris and shrapnel from an airstrike carried out on a square some 700 meters (700 yards) away the night before was around the embassy compound.

Saudis to investigate

The Saudi-led coalition carrying out an air and ground campaign against Houthi rebels said it would investigate the claims. Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri said heavy airstrikes carried out on Wednesday night targeted missile launchers used by Houthi fighters to strike at Saudi Arabia.

He added the coalition had requested countries provide coordinates of their diplomatic missions, but that any information coming from Houthis has "no credibility."

Asseri accused Houthi rebels of repeatedly using civilian buildings and occupying abandoned embassy compounds.

Human Rights Watch on Thursday

accused Saudi Arabia of using indiscriminate

US-made cluster munitions

in Wednesday night's air raids in violation of international law. It was not immediately clear of any connection between the alleged strike on the Iranian embassy and the use of cluster munitions.

Tensions boiling over

A simmering regional rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran boiled over during the weekend after the Saudi's executed a top Shiite cleric. The execution of Nimr al-Nimr led to protests in Iran, where the Saudi embassy and consulate were ransacked,

prompting Saudi to cut official relations.

A dangerous war of words has further inflamed tensions and raised concern of conflict in the already tumultuous Middle East.

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Since March, Saudi Arabia has led a Sunni Arab coalition carrying air and ground campaign seeking to restore power to the internationally recognized government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was ousted from power by Houthi rebels.

Riyadh views the Shiite Houthis as a proxy of Iran and has sought to counter Tehran's advances across the Middle East. The Houthis and Iran deny a military alliance between the two and say any support is only political.

The conflict has killed at least 6,000 people and left some 80 percent of the population in need of humanitarian assistance. A UN-led effort to strike a peace deal has failed, as did a ceasefire after the Saudi-led coalition said it would end the truce earlier this week.

Any prospect of ending the war and human suffering has been hampered by the deterioration of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

cw/se (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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