February 24, 2016 / 3:56 PM / in 2 years

Yemen government says Hezbollah fighting alongside Houthis

RIYADH (Reuters) - Yemen’s Gulf-backed government on Wednesday accused the Lebanese Shi‘ite Muslim militia Hezbollah of training the Houthi rebels and fighting alongside them in attacks on Saudi Arabia’s border, it said in a statement carried by official media.

Followers of the Houthi movement raise Yemeni flags and their weapons during a rally against the Saudi-led coalition, in Yemen's capital Sanaa, February 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Yemen’s government and its Gulf partners have long accused Hezbollah’s ally Iran of backing the Houthis and seeking to transform the group into a replica of the Lebanese militia to use as a proxy against its main regional rival, Saudi Arabia.

Its latest assertion is based on “many documents and physical evidence” which Hezbollah would not be able to deny, it said, but that it did not immediately produce.

Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab coalition against the Houthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in a bid to restore the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Although both Iran and Hezbollah have given vocal support to the Houthis, dismissed Hadi’s government as illegitimate and condemned Saudi involvement in the civil war, they deny giving the group military aid.

Reporting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Catherine Evans

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