Iran denies ties to Houthi drone attack on Saudi oil installations




DUBAI, May 17 (Reuters) - Iran's foreign ministry on Friday rejected accusations by Saudi Arabia that Tehran had ordered an attack on Saudi oil installations claimed by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi militia.

U.S.-ally Riyadh made the accusation amid growing tension between Iran and its arch-foe the United States, which has built up its military presence in the region alleging threats from Iran to its troops and interests.

The Houthis, which have been battling a Saudi-led military coalition for four years, said they carried out Tuesday's drone strikes against the East-West pipeline, which caused a fire but Riyadh said did not disrupt output or exports.

"You're still deluded after 1,500 days, isn't that enough?," Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said on his Twitter account, referring to the length of the Yemen war.

Mousavi was responding to Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir who tweeted on Thursday: "The Houthis are an indivisible part of #Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps ... and subject to the IRGC's orders. This is confirmed by the #Houthis targeting facilities in the Kingdom."

Mousavi added: "It's time for you to stop your crimes against #Yemeni people. You can't hide your weakness behind such claims."

A military coalition led by neighboring Saudi Arabia, which receives weapons from the West, intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted Yemen's internationally recognized government from the capital Sanaa. The conflict is seen as a proxy war between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran.

Separately, Mousavi condemned air strikes on Thursday by the Saudi-led coalition on Sanaa and called on international and human rights bodies "to act according to their responsibility to prevent the repetition of these crimes," state news agency IRNA said.

The Houthi group denies being a puppet of Tehran or receiving arms from Iran, and says its revolution is against corruption. Iran denies Saudi accusations that it gives financial and military support to the Houthis and blames the deepening civil war crisis on Riyadh. (Reporting by Dubai newsroom, Editing by William Maclean)

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