Newly recruited Houthi fighters ride on the back or a truck during a parade before heading to the frontline to fight against government forces, in Sanaa, Yemen January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
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Iran is sending advanced weapons and military advisers to Yemen's rebel Houthi movement, stepping up support for its ally in a civil war whose outcome could sway the balance of power in the Middle East, regional and Western sources say.Sources with knowledge of the military movements, who declined to be identified, say that in recent months Iran has taken a greater role in the 2-year-old conflict by stepping up arms supplies and other support. Iran rejects accusations from Saudi Arabia that it is giving financial and military support to the Houthis in the struggle for Yemen, blaming the deepening crisis on Riyadh.But Iran's actions in Yemen seem to reflect the growing influence of hard-liners in Tehran, keen to pre-empt a tougher policy towards Iran signaled by U.S. President Donald Trump.A Houthi leader said coalition accusations that Iran was smuggling weapons into Yemen were an attempt to cover up Saudi Arabia's failure to prevail in an intractable war in which at least 10,000 people have been killed.A Western diplomat in the Middle East agreed: "Iran has long been trying to cultivate portions of the Houthi militias as a disruptive force in Yemen.
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