Iran has warned that the blame game Saudi Arabia is playing over the recent deadly stampede in Mina, near the holy Saudi city of Mecca, is tarnishing its own image.
“[The Saudi] obstinacy, [playing a] blame game and shirking its heavy responsibility for the death of several thousand pilgrims of the House of God will further tarnish Saudi Arabia’s image in the world,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham, said on Tuesday.
She added that poor management and lack of foresight on the part of Saudi officials caused the deadly incident in Mina.
The fatal crush in the Saudi town of Mina occurred on September 24 after two large crowds of pilgrims, who were on their way to participate in the symbolic stoning of Satan, a Hajj ritual, collided.
Saudi Arabia has so far confirmed the death of nearly 770 pilgrims in the incident.
The head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, Saeed Ohadi, said on Tuesday that 239 Iranian pilgrims have so far been confirmed dead while 241 others are still missing.
Ohadi has estimated that the total death toll from the crush could reach 4,700.
Afkham further urged Riyadh to apologize to Muslim countries due to its failure in managing the Hajj pilgrimage ritual.
She also dismissed as “unconstructive” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Ahmed Al-Jubeir’s televised allegations that Iran is exploiting the Mina tragedy for political gains.
Afkham further rejected al Jubeir’s “unhelpful and irrelevant” allegations that Iran has been fueling tensions in Syria and Yemen.
“The continuation of the policy of armed intervention in Syria and Yemen and the [systematic] destruction of the infrastructure in Arab and Muslim countries have spread extremism and instability across the [Middle East] region,” Afkham said.
In his interview with Al Arabiya, the Saudi foreign minister claimed that Iran supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by sending militants to the Arab country. Al-Jubeir also accused Iran of providing Yemen’s Ansarullah Houthi fighters with “weapons, advisers and experts.”
Brushing aside the claims, she said Saudi Arabia has turned into the “main source of expansion of extremism and belligerency” by pursuing warmongering policies.
She also slammed the Saudi regime for the recent killing of over a hundred Yemeni civilians at a wedding party.
The United Nations on Tuesday confirmed that at least 135 civilians, including many women and children, were killed in a Saudi airstrike on a wedding ceremony in Yemen.
“This may be the single deadliest incident since the start of the conflict,” UN human rights agency spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters.
Saudi Arabia launched its military aggression against Yemen on March 26 – without a United Nations mandate – in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to fugitive former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Riyadh.
Over 6,200 Yemenis have reportedly lost their lives in the Saudi airstrikes, and a total of nearly 14,000 people have been injured.