US sends seized Houthi weapons to Ukraine's military

Move comes as Congress dithers over continuing to fund Kyiv's fight against Russia

US forces seized the munitions between May 2021 and February 2023. EPA
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The US has transferred thousands of assault rifles, rocket launchers and large amounts of ammunition seized from Yemen's Houthis to the Ukrainian military, Central Command said on Tuesday.

The US government this week sent more than “5,000 AK-47s, machine-guns, sniper rifles, RPG-7s and over 500,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition” to the Ukrainian armed forces, Centcom said in a post on X.

US forces seized the munitions between May 2021 and February 2023, and the government obtained ownership of them in December through the Justice Department's “civil forfeiture claims” against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The claim states the weapons were forfeited as otherwise they would have been used to “fuel violence and conflict around the globe”, the Justice Department said last month.

“Iran’s support for armed groups threatens international and regional security, our forces, diplomatic personnel and citizens in the region, as well as those of our partners,” Centcom said.

“We will continue to do whatever we can to shed light on and stop Iran’s destabilising activities.”

The Iran-backed Houthis have been engaged in dozens of missile and drone attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea in support of Hamas amid the Israel-Gaza war.

US naval forces have been working to end Houthi attacks in the major international shipping lane through the US-led multinational security campaign Operation Prosperity Guardian.

The US has also carried out a series of strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen.

The move to transfer the weapons to Kyiv comes as the US Congress dithers over continuing to fund Ukraine's war against Russia's invasion.

Though support for Ukraine in Washington was initially strong, congressional Republicans have demanded a crackdown at the US-Mexico border in exchange for supporting President Joe Biden’s $110 billion emergency spending request that includes about $61.4 billion for Kyiv.

The Pentagon has warned for months that if aid is not sent to Ukraine, Russia will triumph in the war, now in its third year.

Updated: April 09, 2024, 4:45 PM