SANAA, Yemen (AA) – Iran’s Ambassador to the Houthi-run government in Yemen was evacuated from the capital Sanaa on Saturday, according to a Houthi official.
Diplomat Hasan Irlu was flown from Sanaa aboard an Iraqi ambulance plane, the official at the Sanaa International Airport told Anadolu Agency.
He said the Iranian envoy will be flown to the Iraqi city of Basra, without giving any further details about his health condition.
Yemeni media said Irlu was evacuated in coordination with the Saudi-led coalition, which maintains an air blockade on Yemen.
There was no comment from Houthi rebels or the Saudi-led coalition on the report.
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal said Houthi leaders had asked Saudi Arabia to allow Irlu’s departure from Sanaa for medical care after he was infected with coronavirus.
The newspaper, citing regional sources, said Riyadh would only allow the Iranian envoy to leave to Oman or Iraq and after freeing some high-profile Saudi hostages.
Irlu was smuggled into Sanaa last year where he was announced an ambassador to the Houthi-run government, making Iran the first country to appoint an envoy to the Houthis.
Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Iran-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including Sanaa.
A Saudi-led coalition aimed at reinstating the Yemeni government has worsened the situation, causing one of the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crises, with nearly 80% or about 30 million needing humanitarian assistance and protection, and more than 13 million in danger of starvation, according to UN estimates.
A recent United Nations report projected that by the year’s end, the death toll from the seven-year Yemeni conflict will reach 377,000.
* Writing by Ahmed Asmar in Ankara