Iraqi Foreign Minister Ebrahim Al Jaafari Image Credit: File

Cairo: The Saudi delegation at the Arab League stormed out of a meeting after Iraqi Foreign Minister Ebrahim Al Jaafari defended the Shiite Hashd Shaabi militia grouping, an Iraqi foreign ministry source said on Friday.

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran-allied states have been on the rise as sectarian wars rage in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

“The Saudi delegation withdrew from the meeting hall after the speech of Foreign Minister Al Jaafari who rejected speaking against Hashd Shaabi and other resistance groups,” the source said, declining to be named.

“In his speech he said that Hashd Shaabi and Hezbollah have preserved the dignity of the Arabs and those who call them terrorists are the terrorists,” he said.

A Saudi foreign ministry spokesman could not be reached for comment.

In January, Iraq summoned the Saudi ambassador after he suggested Iranian-backed Shiite militias were exacerbating sectarian tensions in Iraq.

Morocco said last month that it would not host the 2016 Arab League meeting as scheduled, saying it wanted to avoid giving a false impression of unity in the Arab world.