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USA, U.N., tries to identify weapons seized outside the coast of Jemen

Missy Ryan Reporter covering the Pentagon, Military Issues and National Security October 25 at 19:59 ABOARD USS JASON DUNHAM, PERSIAN…

UN experts on Thursday inspected a shipment of weapons recently seized by the US Navy that US officials suspect could provide new evidence of Iranian aid to the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

UN inspectors will try to identify the origins of about 2,500 AK-47s seized in Aden Bay on 28 August. US officials said.

Weapons are stored aboard USS Jason Dunham, a guided missile destroyer who seized the weapons from a vessel that occurred about 70 miles off the southern coast of Yemen.

Deputy Governor Scott Stearney, US Commander of the Middle East, said that US officials had conducted a preliminary investigation of weapons but would have to wait to decide how to deal with them until the UN investigators reach their own conclusions.

“What the UN Inspection Act does means that we can get a level of validation that may be accepted on a larger scale.” Stearney told a small group of reporters. The team members have knowledge of weapons coming from Iran, Yemen and Somalia, “so all that connects this part of the theater,” he said.

The seizure comes as the Trump administration tries to choke out of aid to Houthis who has fought against Saudi Arabia, an American federation and other nations since 2015. The United States provides limited military support to the Saudi government-led military coalition, which conducts air and land activities in Yemen, including aviation fuel and intelligence services.


More than 2,000 AK-47 guns are shown aboard the controlled missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham. (Jonathan Clay / US Navy)

Critics argue that US support has enabled the Saudi-led coalition to carry out an air campaign that results in repeated focus on civilian sites and widespread coincidence, even though the war is worsening a humanitarian crisis. UN officials this week explained that half of Yemen are now living under “difficult conditions”.

At least 21 Yemeni civilians were killed on Wednesday in a market in Red Sea port Hodeida according to UN humanitarian aid friction over Riyadh’s handling of the war had increased even before relations with the United States were in crisis over the death of Washington Post, contributing columnists Jamal Khashoggi, as Saudi officials have admitted, was killed in the country’s consulate in Istanbul this month.

Since the war in Yemen, US and Allied naval forces have taken on arms missions that the US government believes originated in Iran and was bound to Houthis, a Shiite group that took over the capital almost four years ago. 19659014] Cmdr. John Hamilton said the ship’s helicopter had taken video of two small boats, a skiff and a traditional dhow that transferred the cargo at sea at night. The following morning, Dunham sent the staff who decided that the vessels were not flagged and thus considered stateless. After entering the skiff, the US team recovered weapons in plastic and Styrofoam casings.

Three crew members from the skate aboard Dunham after US officials ruled that the craft, which had been weighed down with the guns, was no longer shipping. The men were handed over to the Yemeni authorities, officials said and the ship was destroyed. Officials could not recover 500 AK-47 from that ship.

Naval officers gave reporters access to the weapons, stacked about five feet high and four weapons deep at Dunham. The guns, which officials said were new when they were confiscated, quickly settled in the ocean air.

U.S. Officials believe that the condemned ships start from Somalia and suspect that the broadcast could have been done with Iranian aid.

Gregory Johnsen, who previously served as a member of the UN Expert Group in Yemen, said that, in addition to investigating the weapons, the inspectors would probably request documents found on the boat, information about communications that their crew could have had with the beach, and could Also request information including maps to determine the ship’s track. Establishing origin will be more difficult because they are small, widely available weapons instead of larger weapons.

Determining that the weapons are linked to Iran would strengthen the Trumpad administration’s assertion that the country provides mortal help to Houthis.

In recent months, the White House and the State Department have injected new urgency in their pressure against Iran’s military scope and intensified economic measures against Iranian affiliates.

The Trump Administration has shown other confiscated arms allegedly linked to Iran at a military base outside of Washington. US officials have also accused Iran of delivering more sophisticated weapons to Houthis, including ballistic missiles that threaten Saudi Arabia.


The weapons were found on a small skiff about 70 miles off the south coast of Yemen. (Jonathan Clay / Handout / US Navy)

Securing trade around Yemen, which sits along some of the world’s most transited waters, has become a priority for the Pentagon because of Houthi’s military power and their record of attacking ships connected to Saudi Arabia or its followers. Bab al-Mandeb, where the southwest tip of Yemen is only 18 nautical miles from the Horn of Africa, is a particular problem because of the amount of oil and commercial goods that pass it.

“How to try a needle while moving is something we are very good at in the military, but we have to be good at it in a very very collective way,” which includes working with an international naval coalition fighting piracy and terrorism, said Stearney.

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