The United States Navy announced Sunday that it seized a shipment of thousands of assault weapons, machine guns and sniper rifles hidden aboard a ship in the Arabian Sea, apparently bound for Yemen to support the Houthi rebels.
A US defense official told The Associated Press that the Navy’s initial investigation found the ship came from Iran, again linking the Islamic Republic to the delivery of weapons to the Houthis despite a United Nations embargo.
Iran’s UN mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment, although Tehran has denied in the past having handed over weapons to the rebels.
The seizure, one of several amid the war in Yemen, comes as the United States and others try to end a conflict that sparked one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. The arms shipment shows that the war may still have a long way to go.
The guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey discovered the weapons aboard what the Navy described as a stateless dhow, a traditional Middle Eastern sailboat, in an operation that began Thursday off the northern tip of the Arabian Sea off Oman and Pakistan. Sailors boarded the ship and found the weapons, mostly wrapped in green plastic, below deck.
As the weapons were placed on the deck of the Monterey, the scale of the find was determined. The sailors found about 3,000 Chinese Type 56 assault rifles, a variant of the Kalashnikov. They recovered hundreds of other heavy machine guns and sniper rifles, as well as dozens of advanced Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles. The shipments also included hundreds of rocket-propelled grenade launchers and optical weapon sights.
The UN warned on Monday that the US government’s plan to designate Yemen’s Houthi movement as a terrorist organization could have serious consequences.
The Middle East-based Navy’s Fifth Fleet did not mention where the weapons originated or where they were headed. However, a Pentagon official said the weapons resembled those in other intercepted shipments destined for rebels in Yemen.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.