Lebanon's Hezbollah denies sending weapons to Yemen

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 20, 2017 12:02 PM

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah said on Monday his Iran-backed group had not sent any weapons to Yemen and categorically denied that it was behind the firing of a ballistic missile that was launched at Riyadh from territory held by Yemeni Houthi rebels.

In a televised address, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also urged followers to listen to recent comments by Israeli officials which he said pointed to ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Nasrallah heaped criticism on Arab foreign ministers who accused his group of terrorism at an emergency Arab League meeting convened at the behest of Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

He said the accusation was unfortunate but not new and asked why Arab states were silent about what he described as the destructive war being waged by a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

"I confirm to them, no ballistic missiles, no advanced weapons, and no guns...we did not send weapons to Yemen" or Bahrain, or Kuwait, or Iraq, he said, adding that it had however sent anti-tank missiles to "occupied Palestine".

Regional tensions have risen in recent weeks between Sunni Muslim monarchy Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran, whose rivalry has wrought upheaval in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia has accused the heavily armed Shi'ite Hezbollah of helping the Houthis in Yemen and militants in Bahrain. Riyadh accused Hezbollah of playing a role in the Nov. 4 ballistic missile attack.

"No man from Lebanese Hezbollah had any part in the firing of this missile or any missiles fired previously," Nasrallah said.

Arab League foreign ministers held an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss ways to confront Iran and Hezbollah over their role in the region. Riyadh has been bogged down in the war it launched against Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen in 2015.

Nasrallah also said Hezbollah could withdraw its large number of commanders from Iraq after Islamic State was defeated there.

(Reporting by Ellen Francis and Laila Bassam; Editing by Tom Perry and William Maclean)