A state-run broadcaster in Iran is reporting that the Islamic Republic has sent a navy destroyer and another vessel to waters near Yemen amid a Saudi-led airstrike campaign.

Iran's English-language Press TV on Wednesday quoted Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari saying that the vessels would be part of an anti-piracy campaign "safeguarding naval routes for vessels in the region."

However, the maneuver comes as a coalition of Saudi-led countries is launching airstrikes targeting Shiite rebels in Yemen known as Houthis. Critics say Shiite power Iran backs the Houthis, though both the Islamic Republic and the rebels deny any direct military assistance.