Saudi Arabia on Friday confirmed that its warplanes prevented an Iranian cargo plane from landing in Yemen saying it had not obtained the necessary permission.
Speaking to Al Arabiya News Channel, Saudi-led coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri said coalition forces have a mechanism for issuing permits granting planes access to Yemeni airspace. But, he said the Iranian aircraft had not adhered to this procedure.
Earlier on Friday, Iran had summoned the Saudi charge d’affaires in protest over the incident, according to local reports.
A senior official was quoted as saying that Iran’s Red Crescent Society (IRCS) had acquired the “needed permissions” to fly from Oman to Yemen and that the cargo planes were carrying “pharmaceutical aid” and “wounded Yemenis” who had been treated in Iran.
In a phone call with the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab-African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian according to local press reports, said: “Saudi Arabia does not help with efforts to deliver humanitarian aid and transfer of injured Yemenis for treatment.”
Local reports claim the incident was the second such event in two days after Saudi warplanes warned an Iranian cargo plane headed to Sanaa airport to keep away from Yemen on Thursday.
However, Asiri has on multiple occasions reiterated during press conferences that Saudi Arabia allowed humanitarian aid and relief missions into Yemen, while stressing that these need to be coordinated with the coalition in advance.
Last week, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar donated four planeloads of humanitarian aid to Yemen.
On Tuesday, the coalition declared the first phase of its operations against the Shiite Houthi militias and their allies in Yemen was over, but there has been no end to air strikes.
The militias have demanded a complete halt to the raids as a condition for U.N.-sponsored peace talks.
Iran is a key ally of the Houthis, but vehemently denies arming them.
U.S. Navy vessels are patrolling the waters off Yemen to enforce a U.N.-imposed arms embargo on the rebels. A U.S. official said Thursday that an Iranian naval convoy suspected of carrying weapons to Yemen had turned back.