A senior Iranian commander has stressed that attacking the Iranian aid ship heading to Yemen will “ignite the flames of war” in the region.
Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri made the remarks in an interview with Arabic-language news channel Al-Alam on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia, the United States, and their allies must keep in mind that if they want to block Iran’s humanitarian aid to the regional countries, “they will start a fire which they cannot put out,” the commander added.
“I clearly announce that the self-restraint of the Islamic Republic of Iran has its limits,” Jazayeri stated.
Iran’s Nejat (Rescue) cargo ship, containing 2,500 tons of much-needed aid, including food, medical supplies and tents, left the southern port city of Bandar Abbas for Yemen on Monday.
On April 28, Saudi Arabia forced an Iranian cargo plane carrying medical aid and foodstuff for people in Yemen to return.
The Iranian aircraft, which had earlier received permits from Omani and Yemeni aviation officials to cross into Yemen’s airspace, could not land at the Sana’a International Airport, as Saudi warplanes were violently striking the runway of the airport.
It came less than a week after Saudi warplanes intercepted another Iranian airplane, carrying humanitarian aid to Yemen, and prevented it from entering the Yemeni airspace on April 22.
On Tuesday, a senior Iranian commander said that Iran’s navy will protect the cargo ship en route to Yemen.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s 34th naval group, which is currently in the Gulf of Aden and Bab al-Mandab Strait, is responsible for supporting Iran’s humanitarian aid cargo ship,” IRNA quoted Admiral Hossein Azad as saying on Tuesday.
He added that the naval group includes the Alborz Destroyer and the Bushehr logistic ship, which are both currently on a 90-day mission, “demonstrating Iran’s navel might, insure the security of international shipping lines and defend the country’s interests.”
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren told reporters on Tuesday that the cargo ships’ escort is “absolutely unnecessary.”
Earlier in the day, a US defense official said that reports that the Iranian Navy escorting the aid ship are worrying.
The United States has information that the Iranian aid ship does not contain weapons, the official added.
The Pentagon has also said the ship should change course and head to Djibouti, where the UN is supervising humanitarian deliveries.
Saudi violates ceasefire
Earlier on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia violated a ceasefire in Yemen immediately after it took effect.
Four raids were carried out by Saudi jets in the southwestern Lahij province, the eastern Hajjah province, and the northwestern Sa’ada province.
Saudi Arabia started its military aggression against Yemen on March 26 – without a UN mandate – in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement, which currently controls Sana’a and other major provinces, and to restore power to Yemen’s fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Riyadh.
According to the latest UN figures, the Saudi military campaign has so far claimed the lives of over 1,400 people and injured close to 6,000 people, roughly half of whom civilians.