Iranian AK-47s seized by US Navy to arm Yemeni militants
More than 2,000 assault rifles were being smuggled from Iran to the Houthi group in Yemen on a fishing boat, according to the US Navy.
Vice Admiral Brad Cooper stated on Tuesday that “this shipment is a part of a sustained pattern of destabilising conduct from Iran.”
Last Friday, a crew from the Cyclone-class coastal patrol ship USS Chinook boarded the traditional wooden sailing dhow in the Gulf of Oman. According to Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain, discovered 2,116 Kalashnikov-style AK-47 firearms individually wrapped in green tarpaulins on board the ship.
The guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans, the patrol boat USS Monsoon, and the Chinook all seized control of the armaments. They resembled other assault guns that the Navy had previously discovered travelling from Iran to Yemen.
The ship was travelling along a route that had previously been utilised to transport illegal goods to the Houthis in Yemen, according to Hawkins. “The Yemeni crew verified the source.”
The direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer of weapons to the Huthis violates international law, Hawkins said. The six crew members would be transferred to a region of Yemen under government control.
In April 2015, a year after a Houthi takeover launched a civil war, the UN Security Council forbade the transfer of arms to Houthi leaders. In February 2022, the embargo was expanded to include the entire group.
Iran has consistently denied arming the group, although Tehran has often been exposed for sending weaponry to the Houthis by water, including guns, rocket-propelled grenades, missiles, and other equipment. Components recovered aboard other arrested vessels have been linked to Iran by independent analysts, Western countries, and UN experts.
One million rounds of ammunition, rocket fuses, and propellant were discovered last month by the US Navy being trafficked from Yemen to Iran on a fishing trawler.
In November, the US Navy sank a boat carrying to the Houthis 70 tonnes of a missile fuel component from Iran that was concealed within sacks of fertiliser and had the capacity to power a dozen ballistic rockets.
In Yemen, Omani mediators visited Houthi-controlled Sanaa on Tuesday for the second time in less than a month to speak with the militia’s leaders about extending the UN-mediated ceasefire that had ended in October.