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Iran’s envoy to Yemen passes away days after contracting COVID-19 after delayed evacuation

Iran's ambassador to Yemen, Hassan Irloo, has passed away of COVID-19 complications after certain countries delayed his return home for medical treatment.

Irloo had earlier this week been repatriated from Yemen amid Saudi aerial blockade on the war-torn Arab country to receive treatment at a hospital in Tehran.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said the envoy passed away from complications related to the coronavirus in the early hours of Tuesday.

He said Irloo was transferred to the country in a “bad state” and due to “late cooperation” of some countries, a reference to Saudi Arabia

A war veteran, Irloo had sustained injuries from chemical warfare attacks on Iran during Iraq’s 1980-88 imposed war, backed by the West.

He contracted the coronavirus at the place of his mission, and passed away early on Tuesday “despite undergoing all stages of treatment to improve his condition”, Khatibzadeh said.


The envoy was transferred from Sana’a to Iran late on Saturday. His repatriation was reportedly delayed by the Saudi authorities. 

The Wall Street Journal claimed on Friday that the envoy showed no signs of COVID-19, and quoted anonymous officials from the Mideast and Western officials as saying that the ambassador was recalled to Tehran over “strains with the Ansarullah movement.”

Tehran rejected the claims, stressing that Tehran-Sana’a relations are stronger than before.

Ibrahim al-Dailami, Yemen’s ambassador to Tehran, also dismissed the report in an interview with IRNA published on Sunday.

“We should not respond to such nonsense, which the American media publish from time to time in order to take advantage of the [dire situation] and poison the atmosphere,” Dailami said, adding that relations between Tehran and Sana’a were “developing rapidly.”

Irloo officially began his diplomatic mission to Yemen in November 2020, in defiance of the US opposition to close ties between Tehran and Sana’a.

In December 2020, he was sanctioned by the former US president Donald Trump for his links to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force. 

Saudi Arabia, backed by the US and regional allies, launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of reinstalling the unpopular regime of Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and to crush the popular Ansarullah movement.

The Saudi war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead, and displaced millions more. It has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases in the Arab country.

Despite Saudi Arabia’s relentless bombardment of the impoverished country, Yemeni armed forces and the allied popular committees have grown in strength against the Saudi-led invaders.

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