The French Navy has seized thousands of rifles trying to be smuggled into Yemen from Iran. PHOTO/CENTCOM
SANAA – Navy French confiscated thousands gun assault rifles, machine guns and anti-tank missiles earlier this month in the Gulf of Oman. The weapons came from Iran to Yemen’s Houthi militias, officials said Thursday (2/2/20223).
Iran did not immediately acknowledge the seizure. Images of the weapons released by the US military’s Central Command show that they are similar to other weapons captured by US forces in other Tehran-linked shipments.
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As AP reports, the seizure occurred on January 15 in the Gulf of Oman, a body of water that stretches from the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, to the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.
US Central Command described the seizure as taking place “along routes historically used for the illegal traffic of weapons from Iran to Yemen.”
A UN resolution bans arms shipments to the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen, which seized the country’s capital in late 2014 and have been fighting a Saudi-led coalition backing the country’s internationally recognized government since March 2015.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on the seizure, identifying the troops involved as elite French special forces. A regional official familiar with the ban, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the details of the operation, also identified France as carrying out the seizure.
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The French military did not respond to requests for comment about the arms seizure. US Central Command did not immediately respond to questions about the seizure, nor did Iran’s mission to the United Nations.
While France maintains a naval base in Abu Dhabi, it usually takes a calmer approach to the region while maintaining a diplomatic presence in Iran.
Iran has long denied arming the Houthis, although Western countries, UN experts and others have traced weapons ranging from night-vision scopes, rifles and missiles back to Tehran.
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