US Navy seizes more than 2,100 rifles destined for Yemen

Fishing boat cargo is example of destabilising activity from Iran, commanding officer says

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The US Navy seized 2,116 rifles destined for Yemen from a fishing boat in the Gulf of Oman.

The crew of the gunboat USS Chinook discovered and confiscated the weapons on Friday with support from USS Monsoon and guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans, the US Naval Forces Central Command (Centcom) said in a statement on Tuesday.

The intercepted vessel, which was sailing on a route used to traffic illicit cargo from Iran to the Houthis in Yemen, was crewed by six Yemenis, it said.

“The direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons to the Houthis violates UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and international law,” the US Navy said.

“This shipment is part of a continued pattern of destabilising activity from Iran,” said Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of Centcom's 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces.

“These threats have our attention. We remain vigilant in detecting any maritime activity that impedes freedom of navigation or compromises regional security.”

The interception comes after two others in the Gulf of Oman smuggling lethal aid from Iran to Yemen in the past two months.

More than 50 tonnes of ammunition, fuses and propellants for rockets were confiscated on December 1, and more than 70 tonnes of ammonium perchlorate, a compound commonly used to make rocket and missile fuel, as well as 100 tonnes of urea fertiliser, were taken on November 8.

The US 5th Fleet operating area includes 21 countries, the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Bab Al Mandeb and Suez Canal.

Updated: January 10, 2023, 1:23 PM