Tehran denies death of Iranian ‘military expert’ in Yemen

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Iran denied on Saturday the death of one of its citizens in Yemen, after a Yemeni government official said an Iranian military expert was killed in an airstrike by the Arab Coalition fighting Yemen’s Tehran-backed Houthi militia.

Yemen’s Minister of Information Moammar al-Eryani said on Saturday that an airstrike by the Arab Coalition killed an Iranian military expert by the name of Heydar Sirjan and nine others in the Yemeni city of Marib on Friday.

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Sirjan was “specialized in infantry and mountain infantry, and in preparing tactical combat plans,” al-Eryani wrote on Twitter, adding that he had been dispatched to Marib in June to replace an operative from the Lebanese Hezbollah who had died.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh rejected al-Eryani’s assertion, saying Iran has no military personnel present in Yemen to begin with, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

The alleged incident “confirms the level of Iran involvement and destabilizing role to Yemen security and stability,” al-Eryani wrote on Twitter.

Iran denies accusations that it gives financial and military support to the Houthis. However, some Iranian military commanders have in the past contradicted Tehran’s official position.

In 2018, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Mohammad Ali Jafari, who at the time headed the force, said Iran had provided “advisory assistance” to the Houthis in Yemen.

In similar comments in 2019, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces Mohammad Bagheri said Tehran was providing the Houthis with “advisory and intellectual assistance.”

Former oil minister and IRGC commander Rostam Ghasemi said in April that the IRGC had provided weapons to the Houthi militia in Yemen and trained the militia in manufacturing weapons.

The Arab Coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 in support of the country’s internationally recognized government against the Houthis.

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