France-led western operation seizes arms shipment bound for Yemen's rebels
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 on Wednesday.
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.
Central Command, which oversees US military operations across the Middle East, said the US supported the interdiction operation, while not saying 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," Central Command said in a statement.
On January 6 US forces intercepted a fishing vessel in the Gulf of Oman that was carrying more than 2,100 assault rifles, also believed headed to Yemen from Iran.
Iran has been actively supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
US forces in December seized a boat loaded with tons of ammunition, chemicals, fuses and rocket propellants believed bound for the Houthis, who have fired rockets and attack drones at Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
But Yemen has also become a key hub in the arms trade with eastern Africa, with weaponry sold by Yemen-based traders to rebels in Somalia, Sudan and elsewhere.