Iran has condemned regional rival Saudi Arabia for launching air strikes against Shi'ite Huthi rebels in Yemen, calling it a "dangerous step" that would exacerbate the upheaval in the Arabian Peninsula nation.
Iran's Foreign Ministry said on March 26 that military action would "further complicate the situation" and "remove opportunities for a peaceful resolution" in Yemen.
Saudi officials and media said earlier in the day that the Sunni-led kingdom and its allies launched air strikes against the Huthis "to protect and defend the legitimate government" of embattled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Reports said huge explosions were heard in the capital, Sanaa, as warplanes pounded an air base adjacent to the international airport and other locations. There were reports of casualties among Sanaa residents.
Saudi media said the kingdom had deployed 100 fighter jets, 150,000 soldiers, and naval units.
Reuters news agency quoted an unnamed Saudi source familiar with defense issues as saying a ground force may be needed in addition to the air campaign to "restore order" in Yemen.
Jordan and Egypt confirmed their support for the Saudi-led coalition that also includes the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan.
Pakistan, which has long-standing ties with the kingdom, said it was examining a Saudi request to take part.
The White House said in a statement late on March 25 that Washington was coordinating military and intelligence support with the Saudis but not taking part directly in the strikes.
A spokesman for the Huthis told Qatar-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera that the Saudi-led operation was a "declaration of war."
The Iran-backed rebels who overran Sanaa in September have made rapid gains in recent months, forcing Hadi to flee the capital for the southern city of Aden.
The rebels now control much of the country's north and several southern provinces.
The Huthis' advance had raised fears in the predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia that the Shi'ite minority rebels would seize control of its Sunni-majority neighbor, Yemen, and take it into the orbit of Shi'ite Iran.
Iran denies allegations it is providing money and training to the rebels.
With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and dpa
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