DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The US Navy has seized more than 2,100 assault rifles in the Gulf of Oman from a ship believed to have come from Iran and was destined for Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, it said. A Navy spokesman said Tuesday. This was the latest seizure of arms allegedly destined for the Arab world’s poorest country.
Last Friday’s seizure occurred after a team of USS Chinook, a Cyclone-class coastguard vessel, boarded a traditional wooden sailing vessel known as a dhow. They found Kalashnikov rifles individually wrapped in green tarps on board, the commander said. Timothy Hawkins, spokesman for the Navy’s Middle East-based 5th Fleet.
Chinook took up arms along with the patrol ship USS Monsoon and the guided-missile destroyer USS Sullivans. They resembled other assault rifles suspected of heading from Iran to Yemen that the Navy had previously seized.
“When we intercepted the ship, it was on a route historically used to transport illegal cargo to the Houthis in Yemen,” Hawkins told the Associated Press. ‘s crew corroborated the origin.”
The Yemeni crew will be repatriated to government-controlled areas in Yemen, Hawkins added.
Since 2014, when the Yemeni civil war broke out, a UN arms embargo has barred the transfer of weapons to the Houthis.
Iran has long denied arming the Houthis, despite using sea routes to transfer rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, missiles and other weapons to Yemeni militias. and UN experts traced parts seized aboard other detained vessels back to Iran.
Iran’s mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
The Houthis seized Yemen’s capital Sana’a in September 2014 and overthrew the internationally recognized government. In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition armed with US weapons and intelligence entered the war on the side of the Yemeni government-in-exile. Years of inconclusive warfare have pushed the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of famine.
A six-month ceasefire in the Yemeni war, the longest in the conflict, expired in October despite diplomatic efforts to renew it. This raises concerns that the fighting will escalate again. During the conflict, more than 150,000 of her people were killed in Yemen, including over 14,500 of her civilians.
There have been sporadic attacks since the ceasefire expired, but international negotiators are trying to find a political solution to the war.
In November, the Navy discovered 70 tons of missile fuel ingredients hidden inside fertilizer bags. It is also from Iran and is believed to have been brought to Yemen.
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