Baku-APA. An Iranian naval convoy suspected of carrying weapons for Shiite rebels in Yemen has turned back, US officials said, as Saudi-led warplanes kept up air strikes on anti-government forces, APA reports quoting AFP.
The conflict has sent tensions soaring between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, which backs the Huthi rebels, raising fears Yemen could become a new front in a proxy war between Middle East powers.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassin accused Tehran Thursday of trying to break a naval blockade on his country, describing the war as an "Iranian plot implemented by the Huthi militia".
A US official said Thursday the nine-ship Iranian convoy that had been heading for Yemen is "no longer on the same course".
The USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier and other American warships have deployed off Yemen's coast to track the Iranian flotilla and possibly prevent any arms deliveries to the rebels.
The flotilla included two "armed vessels," said the US official.
It was possible the Iranians "could make a turn to Yemen at any time," the official added.
Iran vehemently denies arming the rebels and has presented a peace plan to the UN calling for a ceasefire and the formation of a unity government.
On Friday, Tehran summoned the Saudi envoy to protest after warplanes allegedly turned back humanitarian aid flights headed for Yemen, whose airspace is controlled by a Saudi-led coalition.
With international pressure mounting for a political solution, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced plans to appoint Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed as his new envoy to Yemen.
The Huthis swept into the capital in September from their northern stronghold, and later advanced south on the major port of Aden, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to Riyadh last month.