UK forces recently intercepted a small boat illegally smuggling missiles from Iran to Yemen.
It’s the latest incident to see the US and partner forces seize weapons in Middle East waters.
Western militaries have captured mountains of guns, ammunition, explosives, and missiles.
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The British navy recently intercepted a small boat smuggling anti-tank guided missiles and ballistic missile parts from Iran to Yemen, the US military announced on Thursday.
It was the latest in a string of raids that have seen the US and partner forces capture mountains of weaponry, including guns and explosives, from vessels attempting to illegally transport the hardware to a brutal proxy war.
UK forces aboard the Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster seized Iranian-made versions of Russia’s 9M133 Kornet anti-tank guided missiles and components used to make medium-range ballistic missiles, from the ship on February 23, US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) said in a Thursday statement.
NAVCENT added that the US military helped the UK carry out this interception by providing surveillance, reconnaissance support, and airborne intelligence, and described the incident as “coordinated efforts” among the two maritime forces.
The seizure took place in the Gulf of Oman, a small body of water between Oman and Iran, along a route that has historically been used to smuggle weapons illegally to Yemen. There, Iran-backed Houthi rebels have been fighting a years-long civil war against Yemen’s internationally recognized government, which is supported by a Saudi-led coalition. Experts have characterized the conflict as a proxy war between regional foes Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Western militaries have been regularly raiding boats trying to smuggle a massive amount of guns, ammunition, and explosives from Iran to the Houthis, which violates a United Nations arms embargo. While these interceptions have gone on for years, there have been several in the last few weeks alone.
“This is the seventh illegal weapon or drug interdiction in the last three months and yet another example of Iran’s increasing malign maritime activity across the region,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the commander of NAVCENT, US 5th Fleet, and Combined Maritime Forces, said in a statement. “We will continue to work with our partners in pursuing any destabilizing activity that threatens regional maritime security and stability.”
During these interceptions, the US military and partner forces have seized over 5,000 weapons, 1.6 million rounds of ammunition, 30 anti-tank guided missiles, medium-range ballistic missile parts, thousands of rocket fuses, and propellant used to make rocket propelled grenades, according to NAVCENT.
Once these weapons are seized, there are a handful of places they can end up — depending on what, exactly, was obtained during the raid. In some past cases, explosives have been detonated at sea while the rifles and ammunition were sent ashore to be destroyed.
Middle East experts previously told Insider that these raids are part of a coordinated effort among the US and its partner forces to try and apply pressure on Iran and curb its malign influence in the region.