The US military announced Wednesday that it had seized over 1,000 AK-47 assault rifles and more than 200,000 rounds of ammunition, which were assessed to have been sent from Iran to Yemen’s Houthis.
“The stateless vessel was assessed to have originated in Iran and transited international waters along a route historically used to traffic weapons unlawfully to the Houthis in Yemen,” the US Navy 5th Fleet said in a statement.
Supplying or transferring weapons to the Iran-backed Houthis violates UN Security Council resolutions as well as US sanctions.
The fishing vessel was searched on Monday in accordance with international law, the US Navy said, adding that the five crew members said they were Yemeni nationals and would be returned to their homeland.
“After removing the crew and illicit cargo, US naval forces determined the stateless vessel was a hazard to navigation for commercial shipping and sank it,” the 5th Fleet said.
This year alone, the US Navy in the region has seized around 8,700 illicit weapons.
“US naval forces regularly perform maritime security operations in the Middle East to ensure the free flow of legitimate trade and to disrupt the transport of illicit cargo that often funds terrorism and other unlawful activity,” Wednesday’s statement said.
Other seized weapons include Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles, Chinese assault rifles and other rocket-propelled grenade launches.
The US fleet that seized the weapons is responsible for maritime areas in the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and “three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Strait of Bab al Mandeb.”
The Houthis have increased their attacks on Saudi Arabia, and other civilian targets as their offensive on Marin continues.
A recent report from the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said the Houthis doubled their number of attacks on civilian targets in Saudi Arabia during the first nine months of this year compared to the same period in 2020.
The report said Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah are the biggest providers of weapons and assistance to the group.