Saudi airstrikes pound Yemen; Iran calls it ‘genocide’; shipping scaled back

People walk past a car damaged by an airstrike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

(Reuters) – Iran’s leader on Thursday condemned as genocide the military intervention by its main regional rival Saudi Arabia in Yemen, sharply escalating Tehran’s rhetoric against the two-week-old air strike campaign.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saudi Arabia would not emerge victorious from the war in Yemen, where Iran-allied Houthi fighters who control the capital Sanaa have been trying to seize the southern city of Aden from local militias.

Iran has repeatedly urged a halt in the air strikes and called for dialogue in Yemen, but Khamenei’s comments are the most critical yet from Tehran about the offensive by Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies.

“This is a crime and genocide that can be prosecuted in international courts … Riyadh will not emerge victorious in its aggression,” Khamenei said, describing Saudi actions as an aggression on innocent Yemenis…

Related: Shipping lines pull back from Yemen as conflict escalates: (Reuters) – International shipping lines are being forced to scale back or suspend port calls to Yemen as the conflict gets worse, putting pressure on supplies of food as prices rise in local markets.

Yemen imports more than 90 percent of its food, including most of its wheat and all its rice, to feed a population of 25 million. Much of its needs had been serviced by foreign ships…

A man reacts at the site of an air strike in SanaaA man reacts at the site of an air strike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. A Saudi-led coalition air strike hit an office of Yemen’s Houthi rebels near the pro-Houthi television channel al-Maseera in central Sanaa on Wednesday, witnesses said. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah