TEHRAN: Iran’s deputy foreign minister on Saturday dismissed US accusations that Tehran was involved in attacks by Yemeni rebels on commercial ships, saying the group was acting on its own.
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels have launched more than 100 drone and missile attacks, targeting 10 merchant vessels in the Red Sea, according to the Pentagon, in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel is battling Hamas fighters.
On Friday, the White House released US intelligence that Iran provided drones, missiles, and tactical intelligence to the Houthis, who control vast parts of Yemen including the capital, Sanaa.
“The resistance (Huthis) has its own tools…and acts in accordance with its own decisions and capabilities,” said Ali Bagheri, Iran’s deputy foreign minister.
“The fact that certain powers, such as the Americans and the Israelis, suffer strikes from the resistance movement…should in no way call into question the reality of the strength of the resistance in the region,” he told Mehr news agency.
Earlier on Saturday, Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Washington had previously asked Iran to advise Yemeni rebels not to act against US and Israeli interests in the region.
“We have made it clear to the Americans that these groups have decided, based on their interests, on how to support Gaza,” said Amir-Abdollahian during a conference in Tehran in support of Palestinians.
“We have not and will not order them to stop the attacks.”
The Gaza Strip has endured 11 weeks of Israeli air and ground attacks that killed more than 20,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run coastal territory.
Israel has vowed to crush Hamas after the Palestinian group carried out a cross-border attack on Oct 7 that killed around 1,140 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
Palestinian fighters also abducted about 250 people, 129 of whom Israel says remain in Gaza.
Iran, which supports Hamas financially and militarily, has hailed the Oct 7 attack on Israel but denied any involvement.
The Islamic republic has repeatedly warned of a widening conflict, and last month Amir-Abdollahian said the intensity of the war has rendered its expansion “inevitable”.
President Ebrahim Raisi has said Iran sees it as “its duty to support the resistance groups” but insisted that they “are independent in their opinion, decision, and action”.
Last month, Tehran dismissed as “invalid” Israel’s accusations that Houthi rebels were acting on Tehran’s “guidance” when they seized a Red Sea ship owned by an Israeli businessman.