Arab Coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Turki al-Maliki has slammed the “defamatory” claims made by Iran’s foreign minister that the coalition delayed air travel for Iran’s ambassador to Yemen’s Houthis when he needed urgent medical treatment after contracting COVID-19.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told Iranian state television on Tuesday that Iran’s efforts to secure a flight to Tehran for Hassan Irlu, Iran’s ambassador in the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa, were delayed by Saudi officials and “decision-makers.”
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Irlu died in Tehran earlier Tuesday morning after being eventually flown out, the semi-official Mehr news reported, adding that his condition became “unfavorable” because of “the late cooperation of some countries.”
Brig. Gen. al-Maliki said in a statement published by state press agency SPA that: “The Joint Forces Command of the Coalition has followed the defamatory statements of Hossein Amirabdollahian, Iran’s Foreign Minister, which were circulated by some media outlets on the coalition’s humanitarian stance in regards to evacuating Hassan Irlu, one of the IRGC officers, from Yemen.”
“The Joint Forces Command of the Coalition, under the directives of the leadership in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, had commenced the facilitation of evacuating the aforementioned person for humanitarian considerations, and in recognition of the diplomatic mediation by the brotherly Sultanate of Oman and the Republic of Iraq in less than 48 hours of reporting his health condition.”
“These defamatory statements against the Kingdom contradict humanitarian values and principles, and do not value the coalition’s noble and humane stance in evacuating the aforementioned person from (Sanaa) to (Basrah).”
The spokesman also insisted the statements made by the Iranian officials “are hardly surprising,” adding that they fall in line with the conduct of Iranian diplomacy that smuggled [Irlu] into Yemen, who then began supporting chaos and fighting in Yemen.”
Brig. Gen. al-Maliki said the Joint Forces Command of the coalition has facilitated and provided all necessary transit permits, as well as logistical support to the Iraqi Air Force (C-130) medevac aircraft.
He pointed out this is the second instance of evacuating an Iranian national who was associated with combat operations, following a similar arrangement for an Iranian military vessel (Saviz) crewmember in the Red Sea by the Royal Saudi Air Force, who was transported to receive medical attention for an extensive period of time at a Saudi hospital due to his deteriorating health condition.
He was then medically evacuated to Muscat following mediation by the Sultanate of Oman in order to return him to Iran.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the coalition will continue on their path of implementing the well-established humanitarian values and principles, despite the uncivilized, inhumane behavior of Iran,” concluded Brig. Gen. al-Maliki.