France seized Iran’s assault rifles, missiles for Yemen – KGET 17

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — French naval forces in January seized thousands of assault rifles, machine guns and anti-tank missiles in the Gulf of Oman en route from Iran to Yemen’s Houthi rebels, officials said Thursday, the latest such interdiction amid a long-running middle eastern nation war.

Although Iran did not immediately acknowledge the seizure, images of the weapons released by the US military’s Central Command showed they were similar to weapons seized by US forces in other shipments linked to Tehran.

The announcement comes as Iran faces increasing pressure from the West over its delivery of drones to arm Russia during its war against Ukraine, as well as its violent months-long crackdown on protesters. Regional tensions also rose after an alleged Israeli drone attack on a military workshop in the central Iranian city of Isfahan. Previous cycles of violence since the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers have seen the Islamic Republic launch retaliatory attacks at sea.

The seizure took place on January 15 in the Gulf of Oman, a body of water that stretches from the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, across the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. US Central Command described the interdiction as taking place “on routes historically used for illicit arms trafficking from Iran to Yemen”.

The United Nations resolution bans the transfer of arms to Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who seized the country’s capital in late 2014 and have been at war with a Saudi-led coalition backing the country’s internationally recognized government since March 2015.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the seizure, identifying the forces involved as elite French special forces. A regional official with knowledge of the ban, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the details of the operation, similarly identified the French as carrying out the seizures.

The French military did not respond to requests for comment on the weapons seizure. US Central Command did not immediately respond to questions about the seizure, nor did Iran’s mission to the United Nations. Although France has a naval base in Abu Dhabi, it usually takes a quieter approach in the region, while maintaining a diplomatic presence in Iran.

Iran has long denied arming the Houthis, although Western countries, UN experts and others have traced weapons ranging from night sights, rifles and missiles to Tehran. In November, the US Navy said it had found 70 tons of rocket fuel components hidden among bags of fertilizer on a ship bound for Yemen from Iran. Houthi ballistic missile fire has targeted Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the past.

Images released Wednesday by US Central Command and analyzed by the AP show various types of weapons on an unidentified ship that apparently docked in port. Weapons appear to include Chinese-made Type 56 rifles, Russian Molot AKS20Us and PKM machine guns. All have appeared in other arms seizures attributed to Iran.

Central Command said the seizure included more than 3,000 rifles and 578,000 rounds of ammunition. The released images also show 23 anti-tank missiles launched from the container, which have also appeared in other shipments linked to Iran.

The war in Yemen has largely deteriorated into a stalemate and caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. However, no Saudi-led airstrikes have been recorded in Yemen since the kingdom began a ceasefire in late March 2022, according to the Yemen Data Project.

That ceasefire expired in October despite diplomatic efforts to renew it. This led to fears that the war could escalate again. More than 150,000 people have been killed in Yemen during the fighting, including over 14,500 civilians.


Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at

The Latest

To Top