Britain urges Iran to stop supplying Yemen rebels


London (AFP)

Britain on Monday urged Iran to stop sending weapons into Yemen and instead use its influence to end the conflict, as the Saudi-led coalition's military intervention enters its fouth year.

Saudi Arabia has been leading an aerial bombing campaign in support of the government and against the Iranian-backed Huthi rebels.

The United Nations has found Tehran in violation of an arms embargo on Yemen by failing to block supplies of missiles and drones to the Huthis.

In a joint statement, Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt urged Iran to change course.

"If Iran is genuinely committed to supporting a political solution in Yemen -- as it has publicly stated -- then it should stop sending in weapons which prolong the conflict, fuel regional tensions, and pose threats to international peace and security," they said in the statement.

"We question why Iran is spending significant revenue in a country with which it has no real historical ties or interests, rather than using its influence to end the conflict for the good of the Yemeni people."

The Huthis expelled pro-government forces from the capital Sanaa in September 2014 and went on to seize swathes of the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.

This prompted the Saudi-led coalition to intervene militarily on March 26, 2015.

Since then, around 10,000 people have been killed and 53,000 wounded in Yemen.

The war has created what the UN describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

It is seen as both a civil conflict and a proxy war between regional titans Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Johnson and Mordaunt said: "We support the Saudi-led coalition's efforts to restore legitimacy in Yemen, as accepted by the UN Security Council."