Thousands of Iran assault rifles bound for Yemen seized: US Navy | Houthis News

Thousands of Iran assault rifles bound for Yemen seized: US Navy | Houthis News

The weapons were discovered off the coast of Oman “on a route historically used to traffic illicit cargo to the Houthis in Yemen,” the Navy says.

The US Navy says it has seized more than 2,000 assault rifles from a ship in the Gulf of Oman that it believes came from Iran and were intended for Yemen’s Iran-linked Houthi rebels.

The cargo was discovered on Friday off the coast of Oman, the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet said in a statement on Tuesday, noting that the vessel was “crewed by six Yemeni nationals”.

“The illicit flow of arms from Iran through international waterways is having a destabilizing effect on the region,” said Gen. Michael Kurilla, commander of CENTCOM.

“We are committed to the security and stability of the region and the implementation of international law. Alongside our partner forces, CENTCOM will intercept and interdict this type of lethal material in the region, whether by air, land or sea.

The seizure happened last Friday after a team from the USS Chinook, a Cyclone-class coastal patrol boat, boarded a traditional wooden sailing vessel known as a dhow.

They discovered Kalashnikov-style rifles individually wrapped in green tarps aboard the ship, said Commander Timothy Hawkins, a Navy spokesman.

“When we intercepted the ship, it was on a route historically used to traffic illegal cargo to the Houthis in Yemen,” Hawkins said. “Yemeni crew confirmed origin.”

The Yemeni crew, Hawkins added, will be repatriated to a government-controlled part of Yemen.

There was no immediate response from Iranian officials.

Experts reviewing photos released by the Navy said the weapons appeared to be Chinese-made T-56 rifles and Russian-made Molot AKS20U. Type 56 rifles were found in previously seized weapons warehouses. Similar green tarping was also used.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized control of Yemen’s capital Sanaa in 2014, prompting a Saudi-led coalition to intervene the following year.

A United Nations arms embargo has stopped the transfer of weapons to the Houthi rebels since 2015.

On January 6, US Central Command forces intercepted a stateless ship in the Gulf of Oman smuggling more than 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles while in transit in international waters from Iran to Yemen pic

— US Central Command (@CENTCOM) January 10, 2023

The end of the ceasefire

A UN-brokered ceasefire that took effect in April brought a sharp reduction in hostilities. The ceasefire expired in October, although fighting largely remains on hold.

The ceasefire was the longest of the conflict and diplomatic efforts to renew it continue. The end of the ceasefire has led to fears that fighting could escalate again.

More than 150,000 people have been killed in Yemen during the conflict, including about 14,500 civilians. The war has also pushed the impoverished nation to the brink of starvation.

There have been sporadic attacks since the ceasefire expired, although international negotiators are trying to find a political solution to the war.

Last month, the US Navy said it seized one million rounds of ammunition along with rocket fuses and fuel that were being smuggled on a fishing trawler from Iran to Yemen.

In November, the Navy found 70 tons of a rocket fuel component hidden among trash bags, also suspected to be from Iran and destined for Yemen.

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