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Western allies seize arms shipment bound for Yemen’s rebels: Pentagon

February 03, 2023

WASHINGTON: An operation by Western allies reportedly led by France seized a boatload of weapons and ammunition allegedly being sent to Yemen from Iran last month, the US military said.

More than 3,000 assault rifles, 578,000 rounds of ammunition and 23 anti-tank guided missiles were recovered in the January 15 operation in the Gulf of Oman, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Wednesday.

CENTCOM, which oversees American military operations across the Middle East, said the US supported the interdiction operation, while not specifying which partner led it. But the Wall Street Journal said it was undertaken by French special forces, citing officials familiar with the operation.

The operation took place “along routes historically used to traffic weapons unlawfully from Iran to Yemen”, CENTCOM said in a statement. Iran however dismissed the statement, saying the US claims were “politically motivated” and aimed at “misdirecting the people of the world”.

Tehran´s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said in a statement Thursday that countries that sold weapons to states that have “invaded” Yemen were “not in a position to accuse others”.

The United States is a key supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia which in 2015 launched an operation in Yemen to drive out Iran-backed Huthi rebels who had seized the capital Sanaa. Iran has meanwhile widely been reported to offer material support to the Huthi rebels during the seven-year war, a claim rejected by Tehran.