The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen announced the seizure of an Iranian fishing boat carrying weapons apparently intended for the Houthis, Agence France-Presse reported today.
A coalition statement said that the vessel was intercepted on Saturday and that 14 Iranians and weapons including anti-tank shells were found on board.
It said that papers found on board the boat showed that it was registered to an Iranian and was licensed for fishing by the Iranian authorities.
It listed the weapons seized as 18 anti-armored Concourse shells, 54 anti-tank BGM17 shells, 15 shell battery kits, four firing guidance systems, five binocular batteries, three launchers, one launchers’ holder and three batteries.
The Saudis and other Gulf states are maintaining a naval blockade around Yemen to ensure that Iran doesn’t smuggle weapons to the rebels. In May, an Iranian ship challenged the blockade and eventually agreed to offload its cargo under international supervision to distribute inside Yemen.
Last October, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels captured much of Sanaa, Yemen’s capital city. The Houthis continued to block the formation of a new Yemeni government and captured the presidential palace in January. President Abbed Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled to Aden in March, declaring the city the capital, before escaping to exile in Saudi Arabia. The coalition to defeat the Houthis is led by Saudi Arabia and bolstered by the armed forces of other Arab countries, units of the Yemeni military, “popular committees” of Yemeni citizens, student protesters, and Sunni tribal factions.