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A dhow carrying Iranian weapons to Houthi forces in Yemen

Photo shows the dhow transporting Iranian weapons to Houthi forces in Yemen. Photo: U.S. Central Command

U.S. Navy Seizes Iranian Weapons Bound for Houthis 

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 14306
January 16, 2024

The U.S. Navy has announced a significant seizure of Iranian weaponry destined for Houthi forces in Yemen, marking the first confiscation of such advanced conventional weapons (ACW) since the Houthis began attacking merchant ships in November 2023.

The operation tragically resulted in the loss of two US Navy SEALs.

The operation took place in the Arabian Sea, near the coast of Somalia, on January 11, 2024. The U.S. Central Command released details on the seizure on Monday.

US Navy SEALs from the USS LEWIS B PULLER (ESB 3), aided by helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), executed a complex night-time boarding of a dhow that was illegally transporting a cache of advanced lethal aid from Iran, intended to resupply Houthi forces in Yemen.

Seized items included components of Iranian-made ballistic and cruise missiles such as propulsion, guidance, and warheads, as well as components associated with air defense. Preliminary analysis suggests these weapons have been used by the Houthis in their ongoing campaign of attacks against innocent mariners on international merchant ships in the Red Sea.

This operation also marks the first seizure of advanced Iranian-manufactured ballistic missile and cruise missile components by the US Navy since November 2019. The direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer of weapons to the Houthis in Yemen is a violation of UN Security Resolution 2216 and international law.

USCENTCOM Commander, General Michael Erik Kurilla, stated that the two US Navy SEALs who were previously reported as lost at sea were directly involved in the operation. An exhaustive search for the missing SEALs is underway.

The dhow was deemed unsafe after the operation and was sunk by US Navy forces. The status of the 14 crewmembers of the dhow is currently being determined in accordance with international law.

“It is clear that Iran continues shipment of advanced lethal aid to the Houthis. This is yet another example of how Iran actively sows instability throughout the region in direct violation of U.N Security Resolution 2216 and International law,” said General Michael Erik Kurilla, “We will continue to work with regional and international partners to expose and interdict these efforts, and ultimately to reestablish freedom of navigation.”

The Navy’s seizure comes a year after another significant confiscation in January 2023, where more than 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles bound for Yemen were intercepted from a fishing vessel in international waters in the Gulf of Oman. In two other incidents, forces onboard USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) seized over 1 million rounds of ammunition, as well as rocket fuses and propellants in December 2022. A month earlier, a joint operation confiscated more than 70 tons of ammonium perchlorate, a key ingredient in rocket and missile fuel, and 100 tons of urea fertilizer.

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