The US Navy announced Sunday that it had seized thousands of assault and sniper rifles and machines guns from a ship in the northern Arabian Sea, near the coasts of Oman, Pakistan, and Iran. The weapons were apparently sent by Iran to support Yemen’s Houthi rebels, in violation of a United Nations arms embargo, though Tehran has denied arming the rebels in the past. The weapons were hidden below deck, most wrapped in green plastic, on what the Navy described as a stateless dhow, a traditional Mideast sailing ship, which was boarded by sailors from the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey. They included about 3,000 Chinese Kalashnikov-knockoffs; hundreds of heavy machine guns and sniper rifles; dozens of advanced, Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles and several hundred rocket-propelled grenade launchers and optical sights for weapons. “After all illicit cargo was removed, the dhow was assessed for seaworthiness and, after questioning, its crew was provided food and water before being released,” the 5th Fleet said in a statement. In light of this and a number of similar recent weapons seizures, reports that the devastating Yemen conflict may be winding down seem premature.
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