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Rouhani says Saudi airstrikes will breed hatred in Yemen

Iranian president criticizes Riyadh for killing civilians in military campaign to rid region of Houthi rebels

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Iran, Friday April 3, 2015 (Photo credit: AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Iran, Friday April 3, 2015 (Photo credit: AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani harshly criticized Saudi Arabia Saturday, warning that the Saudi royal family in Riyadh will harvest the hatred it is sowing in Yemen through its airstrike campaign.

Since March 26, the Saudi-led coalition has been attacking Shiite rebels known as Houthis and allied fighters loyal to Yemen’s ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Iran backs the rebels but denies providing any military support.

Addressing an army parade in Tehran, in a speech broadcast live on state TV Saturday, Rouhani said killing civilians in Yemen will bring neither power nor pride for Saudi Arabia.

“What does bombing the innocent … Yemeni people mean? What goals are you pursuing? Will killing children bring power to you? You planted the seeds of hatred in this region and you will see the response sooner or later,” Rouhani said. “Don’t bomb children, elderly men and women in Yemen. Attacking the oppressed will bring disgrace … for the aggressors.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already called the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen “genocide” and a “major crime.”

Iran has presented a four-point plan to end the conflict that includes humanitarian aid, dialogue and the formation of a broad-based Yemeni unity government after a proposed cease-fire was already rejected by Saudi Arabia.

Rouhani also accused Saudi Arabia of providing weapons and funding to terrorist groups in the Middle East.

“What does providing financial assistance and weapons to terrorists in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq mean,” he asked.

Iran is supporting both Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Iraqi government in its fight against Sunni Muslim extremists, including the Islamic State group. Tehran says Saudi Arabia and several other Middle East governments support the Islamic State group.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.

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