A British Royal Navy vessel seized a sophisticated shipment of Iranian missiles in the Gulf of Oman earlier this year, officials said on Thursday, referring to Yemen’s intervention in the country as evidence of Tehran’s support for the Iran-backed Houthis. He said pointing.
The British government’s statement was striking in that it provided some of the strongest conclusions to date that Tehran was arming the Houthis with advanced weapons smuggled through the Arabian Gulf against the Arab Alliance.
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Britain’s embassy in the United Arab Emirates called the seizure of surface-to-air missiles and engines for ground-attack cruise missiles “the first time a British naval warship has carried such a sophisticated weaponry from Iran on a ship.” described as blocking”.
“The UK will continue to work in support of lasting peace in Yemen and is committed to international maritime security so that commercial shipping can transit safely without disruption,” said James Heppey, Minister of the Armed Forces.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment.
The announcement marks an escalation as Western officials have in the past avoided public statements that definitively blame Iran for arming Yemen’s Houthis with military sanctions. The route of the smuggled shipments through the Arabian Sea or the Gulf of Aden, however, strongly suggests their destination.
Despite a UN Security Council arms embargo on Yemen, Iran has long been suspected of transferring rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, missiles and other weapons to the Houthis since the devastating war began in 2015.
Iran has denied arms to the Houthis, but independent experts, experts from the West and the United Nations have traced Iranian components.
Citing a forensic analysis last month, the British Navy linked a batch of rocket engines seized earlier this year to an Iranian-made cruise missile with a range of 1,000 km that the Houthis said were used against Saudi Arabia. has done.
The Houthis used cruise missiles to strike an oil facility in Abu Dhabi in January this year, the British Navy said, an attack that killed three people. The US military launched interceptor missiles during the attack, signaling the widening of Yemen’s war.
The helicopter of HMS Montrose was checking for illegal cargo in the Gulf of Oman on 28 January and 25 February when it spotted small vessels with “suspicious cargo on deck” heading off the Iranian coast.
A team of Royal Marines then halted and searched the boats, confiscating weapons in international waters south of Iran.
A US Navy guided-missile destroyer supported the British battleship’s February operation. Fifth Fleet Vice Admiral Brad Cooper said the seizure reflected the Navy’s “strong commitment to regional security and stability”.
The Houthis captured Yemen’s capital Sanaa in September 2014 and forced the internationally recognized government into exile. The Arab coalition has since attempted to bring peace to Yemen and restore an internationally recognized government.
Years of fighting have turned into a bloody standoff and pushed the poorest country in the Arab world to the brink of famine. A hard-fought ceasefire that began around the holy Muslim month of Ramadan appears to be in place, though both sides have accused each other of violations.
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