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Brian Hook, the US special representative on Iran, speaks during a press conference in al-Kharj, south of the Saudi capital Riyadh on June 21, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Riyadh: Iran must not be allowed to gain a foothold in Yemen, a US diplomat said on Friday.

Iran is supporting Yemen’s Al Houthi militants, who are fighting the country’s internationally recgonised government and prolonged a devastating war there.

“Iran’s efforts to use proxies to attack Saudi Arabia and destabilise the region needs to be countered,” US envoy for Iran Brian Hook said at a press conference in Riyadh.

His call came amid rising tensions between the US and Tehran after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on Thursday shot down a US drone that Washington said was flying in international airspace over the strategically important Strait of Hormuz.

Hook blamed Iran for stoking tensions in the Middle East and rejecting diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the crisis.

He said that stringent US sanctions on Iran had denied it tens of billions of dollars in revenues that could have been used in attacks.

The US has blamed Iran for a series of attacks on tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf of Oman in recent weeks.

Hook discussed Iran’s escalation with Saudi officials, including Deputy Defence Minister Khalid Bin Salman.

Saudi general Fahd Bin Turki said at the Riyadh press conference that the US envoy has been acquainted with weapons provided by Iran to the Yemeni extremists to use in attacking Saudi Arabia.

In recent weeks, Al Houthis have intensified their missile and drone attacks inside the kingdom.

An Arab alliance, fighting Al Houthis in Yemen, said on Thursday that an Al Houthi rocket had struck near a water desalination plant in the southern Saudi province of Jizan, causing no casualties or damage.

Last week, the extremists targeted Abha airport in Saudi Arabia, injuring 26 civilians including two children and three women.

The alliance said Friday it had mounted an operation against militant military targets north of Yemen’s Red Sea province of Hodeidah.