A small, stateless vessel was intercepted carrying 1,500 AK-47s, 200 RPG launchers and 21 .50 caliber machine guns, the Navy said in a statement.
WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – The U.S. Navy said Monday that it had seized a cache of weapons likely moving from Iran to Houthi insurgents in war-torn Yemen, marking at least the third time such a shipment has been stopped in the last two months.
The small, stateless vessel was intercepted on March 28 by the U.S. Navy Coastal Patrol ship USS Sirocco while carrying 1,500 AK-47s, 200 RPG launchers and 21 .50 caliber machine guns, the Navy said in a statement.
The boat and its crew were allowed to depart once the illicit weapons had been seized and the weapons are now in U.S. custody awaiting final disposition, the statement said.
On Feb. 27, the Australian navy confiscated nearly 2,000 AK-47s, 100 rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), 49 PKM general-purpose machine guns, 39 PKM spare barrels and 20 60mm mortar tubes from a dhow.
And, on March 20, a French navy destroyer seized almost 2,000 AK-47s, 64 Dragunov sniper rifles, nine anti-tank missiles and other associated equipment, according to the statement.
The ships are part of the Combined Maritime Forces, which is led by head of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Adm. Kevin Donegan.
Why would Iran send weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen?
Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who are Shiite, and a U.S.-backed Saudi Arabian military coalition, who are Sunni, have been battling for control of Yemen since early 2015 after the Houthis sacked the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.
The Saudi-led coalition launched its offensive with the aim of restoring exiled President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to power.
Fighting between the two factions has left more than 6,000 dead, half of them civilians, injured 30,000 more and displaced 2.5 million, according to the United Nations (U.N.).
A UN negotiated ceasefire is set to begin April 10 along with renewed peace talks beginning April 18. Two rounds of peace talks failed last year.