On Sunday, The U.S. Navy declared that they have seized a shipment of weapons, sniper rifles, machine guns from a ship that may have been en route to Yemen. This shipment was seized in the Arabian Sea and is believed to have been meant for the support of Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The Associated Press was told by an American defense official that this vessel was ascertained to be coming from Iran as per an investigation by the Navy. This ties Iran to providing weapons to the rebels despite the United Nations arms embargo.
This weapons’ seizure is not the first. Many such seizures have happened in the years that Yemen has been at war. Currently, the U.S. and various countries are trying to finish this conflict which has resulted in the worst humanitarian problem. The shipment of arms has been described as big which indicates that this war may be far from over.
USS Monterey, a guided-missile cruiser found out that the ship had weapons on it. The ship that is seized is a traditional Mideast sailing ship. This operation started on Thursday in the Arabian sea, near Pakistan and Oman. American Sailors went on the ship and located the weapons. The arms were wrapped in plastic and were found below the deck.
The Navy only realized the scale of their seizure when they lay the arms they had seized on Monterey’s deck. Sailors discovered almost 3000 Chinese Type 56 assault rifles. There were hundreds of sniper rifles as well as machine guns. There were also quite advanced, in dozens of quantities, anti-tank, Russian-made guided missiles. There were hundreds of rocket-propelled grenade launchers in the shipment as well.
The origin of the weapons has still not been identified by The Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet. It has not been disclosed with confirmation where they were headed either. The American defense official however did say that the shipment is similar to other shipments that have often been found to go to the Houthis.
The official said that the sailors realized that the ship came from Iran based on the material onboard and crew interviews.
A statement was released by the 5th fleet saying, “After all illicit cargo was removed, the dhow was assessed for seaworthiness, and after questioning, its crew was provided food and water before being released.”
This weapon’s seizure is just another seizure that has happened in the Gulf of Aden or the Arabian Sea which involved arms and was probably headed to Yemen. Such seizures started in 2016, they have continued since then through the war. Yemen has seen a lot of arms that are said to have been smuggled from ports over the years and Houthis have been known to fire missiles and drones that have been connected to Iran.
This seizure however is said to be the biggest. “The unique blend of materiel recovered by the USS Monterey appears to be consistent with the materiel from previous interdictions, which have been linked to Iran,” said Tim Michetti who is an investigative researcher.