Saturday , 1 April 2023

French forces seize Iranian weapon shipment sent to Houthis in Yemen: Report

Al-Arabia – French special forces recently intercepted a shipment of Iranian-supplied weapons and ammunition destined for the Tehran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing officials familiar with the operation.

This handout photo released on January 7, 2023, by the US Navy shows thousands of AK-47 assault rifles on the flight deck of guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans during an inventory process, after they were reportedly seized from a fishing vessel in international waters of the Gulf of Oman. (US Navy via AFP)

On January 15, a French warship stopped a suspicious vessel off the Yemeni coast and a French team boarded the ship, discovering over 3,000 assault rifles, 20 anti-tank missiles, and half a million rounds of ammunition, the report said.

The operation was coordinated with the US military and is “the outgrowth of a more proactive French role in challenging weapons smuggling in the Middle East,” it said.

In addition to the US, Britain and France have increased their efforts to combat smuggling weapons to the Houthis, the report added.

“Over the past two months alone, we and our partners have prevented more than 5,000 weapons and 1.6 million rounds of ammunition from reaching Yemen,” the WSJ quoted Commander Tim Hawkins, a spokesman for the US Fifth Fleet, as saying.

Despite an unofficial ceasefire, these weapon seizures suggest that Iran is still providing firepower to the Houthis.

The US and its allies have accused Iran of supplying the Houthis with missiles, drones and other weapons used in attacks on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Yemeni forces trying to defeat the Iran-backed militants.

Iran openly supports the Houthis politically, but denies any weapon transfers in violation of UN resolutions.