ABOUT USS JASON DUNHAM, PERSIAN GOLF – UN experts inspected a shipment on Thursday The weapons recently seized by the US Navy, which American officials suspect may provide new evidence for the US Navy provide Iranian support for Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The UN inspectors will try to identify the origin of some 2,500 AK-47 seized on August 28 in the Gulf of Aden
The weapons are stored on the USS Jason Dunham. Vice – Admiral Scott Stearney, commander of US forces in the Middle East, said US officials had a preliminary investigation into weapons, but were waiting to determine how to handle it until the UN investigators draw their own conclusions.
"What the UN inspection team is doing is allowing us validation that may be accepted on a broader scale," Stearney told a small group of reporters. The team members have expertise in weapons coming from Iran, Yemen and Somalia, "so everything that connects this part of the theater," he said.
The seizure comes when the Trump administration tries to stifle outside support Houthis, who since 2015 fight against Saudi Arabia, an ally of the US and other nations. The United States is providing limited military assistance, including aerial refueling and intelligence support, to the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition that conducts air and ground operations in Yemen.
Critics claim US support has allowed the Saudi Arabia-led coalition to conduct an air campaign that has led to repeated attacks on civilian sites and widespread casualties, despite the war exacerbating a humanitarian crisis. UN officials said this week that half of the Yemeni population lives under pre-funnel conditions.
At least 21 Yemeni civilians were killed on Wednesday in air raids on a Red Sea market in Hodeida, according to United Nations Humanitarian Aid
Frictions over Riyadh's dealings with the war had increased even before relations with the United States got into a crisis over the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was admitted by Saudi officials to have been killed in the country's consulate in Istanbul
Since the beginning of the war in Yemen, US and Allied naval forces have confiscated arms The US government believes that they originated in Iran and the Houthis, a Shiite group that took over the capital nearly four years ago. 19659014] Cmdr. John Hamilton said the ship's helicopter had made a video of two small boats, a skiff and a traditional dhow, carrying cargo at sea at night. The next morning, the Dunham dispatched personnel, stating that the ships were not marked and therefore considered stateless. After boarding the boat, the US team seized weapons wrapped in plastic and polystyrene cases.
Three crew members of the Skiff boarded the Dunham after US officials found that the ship complained about their rifles was no longer seaworthy. The men were handed over to the Yemeni authorities, officials said, and the boat was destroyed. Officials were unable to retrieve 500 AK-47s from this ship.
Naval officers provided reporters access to weapons stacked about five feet tall and four weapons deep on the Dunham. The guns, which the officials said were new when they were confiscated, rust quickly in the ocean air.
U.S. Officials believe that the banned Somali ships have been embarked, suggesting that the shipment may have been shipped with Iranian support.
Gregory Johnsen, who was previously a member of the United Nations Yemen expert panel, told the inspectors in addition to investigating the weapons would probably ask for documents that were found on the boat, information about the communication that his crew with the shore and could also ask for information, including maps, to determine the trajectory of the ship. The origin will be more difficult as they are small, commonly available weapons rather than larger weapons.
The finding that the weapons are related to Iran would reinforce the Trump government's claim that the country is providing deadly help to the Houthis. In recent months, the White House and the State Department have tightened their urgency on Iran's military reach and strengthened Iranian affiliates with economic measures.
The Trump government has confiscated more weapons allegedly related to Iran at a military base outside Washington. US officials have also accused Iran of supplying the Houthis with more sophisticated weapons, including ballistic missiles that threaten Saudi Arabia.
Securing trade around Yemen, located on some of the world's busiest waters, has become a priority for the Pentagon, given the military power of the Houthis and their assault outweigh ships that are associated with Saudi Arabia or its supporters. Bab al-Mandeb, where the southwestern tip of Yemen is only 18 nautical miles from the Horn of Africa, is particularly worrisome due to the amount of oil and merchandise traversing it. The needle, while it moves, is something we are really good at in the military, but we have to very collective way to be good at it, "says Stearney.