US partner forces stop boat smuggling assault rifles, anti-tank missiles from Iran to Yemen

FILE – The Pentagon is seen from Air Force One as it flies over Washington, March 2, 2022. The U.S. has now collected 510 reports of unidentified flying objects, many of which are flying in sensitive military airspace. While there’s no evidence of extraterrestrials, they still pose a threat, the government said in a declassified report summary released Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

The U.S. partner naval forces last month seized more than 3,000 assault rifles and 23 advanced anti-tank guided missiles on the way from Iran to Yemen, the Pentagon revealed Wednesday. 

The interaction — which took place on Jan. 15 in the Gulf of Oman along routes historically used to traffic weapons and other illicit cargo to the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen — also recovered 578,000 rounds of ammunition, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command. 

Central Command said it supported the maritime interdiction, though it did not name the partner naval forces. 

The weapons seizure is the fifth such operation in a little over two months involving the U.S. Navy, with the most recent being a Jan. 6 interception of a fishing boat smuggling more than 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles. 

Before that, on Dec. 1, forces from the expeditionary sea base USS Lewis B. Puller seized more than 50 tons of ammunition rounds, fuses and propellants for rockets from one ship.  

And on Nov. 8, Navy and Coast Guard ships “intercepted more than 70 tons of ammonium perchlorate, a powerful oxidizer commonly used to make rocket and missile fuel, as well as 100 tons of urea fertilizer,” the Navy said.   

Iran backs Houthi rebels in Yemen with weapons and other resources as the group continues its years-long civil war with the Saudi Arabia-supported Yemeni government. The U.S. had supported Saudi-led offensive efforts in the region, but pulled its official support in 2021.  

Tags Assault rifles Defense Smuggling Yemen

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