The U.S. Navy has confiscated a cache of weapons that it believes was being transported from Iran to Houthi rebels in Yemen, marking at least the third time in two months that such a shipment was stopped, Navy officials said.
Naval forces aboard the USS Sirocco, a coastal patrol ship, intercepted and seized the weapons March 28 from a small craft commonly known as a dhow in the Arabian Sea, the Navy announced Monday. The cache included about 1,500 Kalashnikov rifles, 200 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 21 .50-caliber machine guns, the Navy said.
Naval forces aboard the USS Gravely, a larger guided-missile destroyer, also responded. The dhow and its crew were allowed to depart after the weapons were seized. Photos released Monday by the Navy show the weapons lined up on the Gravely:
“Our naval forces, and those of our partners, will continue to conduct maritime security operations in the region in order to disrupt the flow of illicit weapons to Houthi insurgents in Yemen,” said Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, a Navy spokesman in the Middle East. “These weapons only serve to exacerbate the situation there and prolong the conflict.”
In earlier seizures, the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Darwin intercepted a craft Feb. 27 that was carrying nearly 2,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 100 RPG launchers, 49 PKM machine guns, 39 PKM machine gun barrels and 20 60mm mortar tubes. In another incident, the French navy destroyer FS Provence intercepted a ship March 20 that was carrying about 2,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 64 Dragunov marksman rifles, nine antitank missiles and other equipment, the Navy said.
The ships are part of the Combined Maritime Forces led by Adm. Kevin Donegan, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.
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