“(The Iranian officers) have been put in a safe place and we will turn them over to Decisive Storm (Saudi-led coalition) to deal with them,” said the militia spokesman. (Reuters, 11 April)
The militiamen did not provide any evidence, like the photos of the captured officers, to back up their claim.
Heavy Saudi-led airstrikes and ground combat between opposing armed militias continued in Aden on Saturday. The war, which started when the Huthis (AnsarAllah) insurgents captured the capital Sanaa and began their march toward Aden, with Saudi-led coalition launching the Operation Decisive Storm to stop their advance, threatens to turn Yemen into a failed state and spread sectarian conflict in the region.
If the news of the capture of the Quds Force by anti-Huthi militia were conformed, it would deepen tensions between Tehran and Riyadh. Iran has denied the presence of its officers and military advisers in Yemen, but the Saudis accuse the Iranians of supporting the Huthi in their military takeover of the country.
The Huthis, or AnsarAllah, insurgents are predominantly followers of Zaydi Shia, a religious sect that emerged in the eighth century out of Shia Islam, and today constitute about 40 percent of Yemen’s population, where the Sunnis are in majority.
UPDATE: Iranian foreign ministry “strongly rejected” the Reuters report that two IRGC officers have been captured in Aden. The foreign ministry added that Iran has “no boots on the ground” in Yemen, Fars News Agency reported on Saturday. The foreign ministry did not say if the Iranians have any military advisers on the ground. The anti-Huthi fighters claimed they have captured two Quds Force advisers in Aden, but have not yet provided any evidence for their claim.
UPDATE: An image circulated in social media on Saturday night is reported as one of the two Iranians captured in Aden.
File photo: AnsraAllah (Huthi) insurgents in Sanaa, Yemen. 26 March 2015 (Reuters)