According to reports, a U.S. Navy team from the USS Chinook patrol coastal ship found and seized the assault rifles with support from the USS Monsoon and the guided-missile destroyer, USS The Sullivans.
The fishing vessel was sailing on a pathway used to traffic illicit cargo to Iran regime-backed terrorist proxy, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and was crewed by several Yemeni nationals. Experts note that the direct or indirect supply of military weapons to the Houthis violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216 and international law.
According to Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, Commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the U..S 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, the shipment “is part of a continued pattern of destabilizing activity from Iran.”
“These threats have our attention. We remain vigilant in detecting any maritime activity that impedes freedom of navigation or compromises regional security,” he said.
In the past two months, several other fishing vessels smuggling weapons and materials for the Houthis from Tehran were intercepted by the U.S. 5th Fleet in the Gulf of Oman.
Experts familiar with the Islamic Republic’s activities in the Middle East say that this is part of an ongoing campaign by the regime to prop up its supporters as Persian Gulf Arab states are normalizing ties with the state of Israel to deter Iranian aggression.
Last year, the Islamic Republic of Iran transported hundreds of rockets and munitions to the Shiite Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon and Palestinian Islamic terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. In response to Iran’s weapons smuggling, the Israeli government has enacted a series of air raids in Syria and Lebanon, destroying weapons caches sent from Tehran.
Last August, American forces launched two air strikes against militant groups linked to the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in northeastern Syria, destroying bunkers that contained ammunition and other military hardware from Tehran. Despite having shipments intercepted by the U.S. and Israeli forces, the Islamic Republic continues to supply its terrorist proxies through the IRGC in Syria, Iraq, and southern Lebanon.