Authorities believe the weapons were illegally transported to Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, in violation of a UN arms ban. Crew members of the USS Normandy seized arms after diving into a small dhow during maritime security operations. A video released by the US Navy showed a high-speed launch from the Norman approach to the dhow as those aboard the traditional Middle Eastern ship stood with arms raised to go.
The terrifying cache included 150 “Dehlavieh” guided anti-tank missiles, which are Russian-made copies of Russian kornets.U.S. Navy personnel also seized three surface-to-air missiles, thermal imaging weapon ranges, components for unmanned aerial and surface ships, and a range of other ammunition and advanced weapon parts.
They are currently being examined by international arms inspectors.
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Arms seizure comes as tensions in the region remain high after the United States killed a senior Iranian general in an air strike in Iraq last month.
Washington has stepped up economic sanctions and sent additional forces to the Middle East over the past year to confront Iran, which it says is pursuing nuclear weapons and fueling conflicts across the Middle East.
Iran has denied providing arms to Houthi rebels, who have been credited with organizing attacks on neighboring Saudi Arabia, since the conflict in Yemen broke out almost five years ago.
The Houthi uprising in 2015 took control of much of the country and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.
Since then, a coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has fought to return Hadi to power.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that the conflict in Yemen has killed at least 100,000 people, displaced 4.3 million people and left around 80% of a population of 24 million destitute of based.
International efforts to negotiate a ceasefire and a peace agreement have failed.