USS Forrest Sherman warship has seized a “significant cache” of suspected Iranian guided missile parts headed to rebels in Yemen, according to the US NBC News. It is the first time that such sophisticated components have been taken en route to the war there.
The seizure from a small boat by a U.S. Coast Guard boarding team from the USS Forrest Sherman happened last Wednesday in the Arabian Sea, and the cache, which included weapons and advanced missile components.
The incident illustrates the continuing illegal smuggling of weapons to Houthi rebels, US Officials said, and comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were meeting, with Iran as the main topic.
The U.S. has consistently accused Iran of illegally smuggling arms to Houthi rebels battling the Yemeni government and has seized smaller and less sophisticated weapons in transit. The officials described the missile parts found in this latest incident as more advanced than any others previously seized.
The USS Forrest Sherman was conducting routine maritime operations when sailors noticed a small boat exhibiting behavior similar to other vessels involved in smuggling. By the time the U.S. Navy warship approached, the vessel was “dead in the water” due to engine failure. The boat was not flying a flag, and the Navy and Coast Guard personnel boarded it for inspection and flag verification — a process allowed under international law. Once onboard, they found the weapons.