The State Department reported that the U.S. Navy seized over 1,400 AK-47 rifles and 226,600 rounds of ammunition from an Iranian ship bound for Yemen in the North Arabian Sea.
U.S. Naval forces identified a stateless fishing vessel, on December 20 according to the State Department.
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said the vessel was traveling a route that had been previously been used by smugglers trafficking weapons to the Houthis in Yemen in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions and U.S. sanctions.
The U.S. Navy said that the five Yemeni crew members will all be returned to Yemen and U.S. forces sank the vessel, which was deemed to be a “hazard” to commercial shipping in the area.
Iran has backed the Houthis in Yemen fighting the country’s Saudi-supported government.
“The illegal flow of weapons to Yemen is enabling the brutal Houthi offensive against Marib, increasing the suffering of civilians,” the State Department said. “Further fighting – whether in Marib or elsewhere – will only bring more suffering. The Yemeni parties must reach a political settlement together to end the war.”
U.S. forces operating the “U.S. 5th Fleet area” have confiscated nearly 8,700 illicit weapons in 2021, according to the U.S. Navy.