U.S. Navy seizes cache of weapons aboard ship in Arabian Sea likely bound for Yemen


The U.S. Navy introduced Sunday that it seized an arms cargo of hundreds of assault weapons, machines weapons and sniper rifles hidden aboard a ship in the Arabian Sea, apparently bound for Yemen to assist the nation’s Houthi rebels.

An American protection official advised The Related Press that the Navy’s preliminary investigation discovered the vessel got here from Iran, once more tying the Islamic Republic to arming the Houthis regardless of a United Nations arms embargo. Iran’s mission to the U.N. didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark, although Tehran has denied in the previous giving the rebels weapons.

The seizure, one of a number of amid the yearslong conflict in Yemen, comes because the U.S. and others attempt to finish a battle that spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. The arms cargo, described as sizeable, exhibits that the conflict should have far to run.

U.S. Navy seizes weapons Arabian Sea
Plastic-wrapped weapons are seen on the deck of a stateless dhow that the U.S. Navy mentioned carried a hidden arms cargo in the Arabian Sea on Friday, Might 7, 2021.

U.S. Navy by way of AP

The guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey found the weapons aboard what the Navy described as a stateless dhow, a standard Mideast crusing ship, in an operation that started Thursday in the northern reaches of the Arabian Sea off Oman and Pakistan. Sailors boarded the vessel and located the weapons, most wrapped in inexperienced plastic, under deck.

When laid out on the deck of the Monterey, the size of the discover got here into focus. Sailors discovered almost 3,000 Chinese language Kind 56 assault rifles, a variant of the Kalashnikov. They recovered tons of of different heavy machine weapons and sniper rifles, in addition to dozens of superior, Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles. The shipments additionally included a number of hundred rocket-propelled grenade launchers and optical sights for weapons.

U.S. Navy seizes weapons Arabian Sea
Weapons that the U.S. Navy described as coming from a hidden arms cargo aboard a stateless dhow are seen aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey on Saturday, Might 8, 2021.

U.S. Navy by way of AP

The Navy’s Mideast-based fifth Fleet didn’t establish the place the weapons originated, nor the place they have been going. Nonetheless, an American protection official mentioned the weapons resembled these of different shipments interdicted bounded for the Houthis.

Primarily based on interviews with the crew and materials investigated on board, the sailors decided the vessel got here from Iran, mentioned the official, who spoke on situation of anonymity to debate the continued investigation.

“In spite of everything illicit cargo was eliminated, the dhow was assessed for seaworthiness, and after questioning, its crew was supplied meals and water earlier than being launched,” the fifth Fleet mentioned in a press release.

The seizure marks simply the most recent in the Arabian Sea or Gulf of Aden involving weapons likely bound to Yemen. The seizures started in 2016 and have continued intermittently all through the conflict, which has seen the Houthis fire ballistic missiles and use drones later linked to Iran. Yemen is awash with small arms which have been smuggled into poorly managed ports over years of battle.

This latest seizure seemed to be among the many largest. Tim Michetti, an investigative researcher who research the illicit weapon commerce, additionally mentioned the cargo bore similarities to the others.

“The distinctive mix of materiel recovered by the usMonterey seems to be in keeping with the materiel from earlier interdictions, which have been linked to Iran,” he mentioned.

U.S. Navy seizes weapons Arabian Sea
A U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopter flies over a stateless dhow later discovered to be carrying a hidden arms cargo in the Arabian Sea on Thursday, Might 6, 2021.

U.S. Navy by way of AP

Yemen’s conflict started in September 2014, when the Houthis seized Sanaa and started a march south to attempt to seize your entire nation. Saudi Arabia, together with the United Arab Emirates and different international locations, entered the conflict alongside Yemen’s internationally acknowledged authorities in March 2015. Iran backed the Houthis, who harass Saudi Arabia with missile hearth and drone assaults.

The conflict has killed some 130,000 individuals, together with over 13,000 civilians slain in focused assaults, in keeping with the Armed Battle Location & Occasion Undertaking.

The conflict has seen atrocities from all sides. Saudi airstrikes utilizing American-made bombs killed college kids and civilians. The UAE paid off local al-Qaida fighters to avoid fighting and managed prisons the place torture and sexual abuse was rampantThe Houthis employ child soldiers and indiscriminately lay landmines.

Since 2015, the U.N. Safety Council has imposed an arms embargo on the Houthis. Regardless of that, U.N. specialists warn “an growing physique of proof means that people or entities in the Islamic Republic of Iran provide important volumes of weapons and elements to the Houthis.”

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