France seizes Iranian-made assault rifles and missiles destined for Yemen

The French navy seized thou­sands of assault rifles, machine guns and anti-tank mis­siles from Iran in Jan­u­ary in the Gulf of Oman tar­get­ing Yemen’s Houthi rebels, offi­cials said Thursday.

Iran did not imme¬≠di¬≠ate¬≠ly acknowl¬≠edge the seizure, but images of the weapons released by the U.S. Cen¬≠tral Com¬≠mand show sim¬≠i¬≠lar¬≠i¬≠ties to those seized by U.S. forces on oth¬≠er ship¬≠ments linked to Tehran. there is

The announce­ment comes as West­ern pres­sure mounts over Iran’s ship­ment of drones to arm Rus­sia in the Ukraine war and months of vio­lent crack­downs on pro­test­ers.
Ten­sions have also risen in the region after Israel alleged­ly used drones to attack a mil­i­tary work­shop in the cen­tral Iran­ian city of Isfahan.

In pre¬≠vi¬≠ous cycles of vio¬≠lence since Iran‚Äôs failed nuclear deal with the rest of the world, the Islam¬≠ic Repub¬≠lic has launched retal¬≠ia¬≠to¬≠ry strikes at sea.

On Jan¬≠u¬≠ary 15, an attack took place in the Gulf of Oman, an area stretch¬≠ing from the Strait of Hor¬≠muz, a nar¬≠row mouth of the Per¬≠sian Gulf, to the Ara¬≠bi¬≠an Sea and the Indi¬≠an Ocean.

U.S. Cen¬≠tral Com¬≠mand said the inter¬≠cep¬≠tion was ‚Äúalong a route his¬≠tor¬≠i¬≠cal¬≠ly used for illic¬≠it arms traf¬≠fick¬≠ing from Iran to Yemen.‚ÄĚ

A UN res¬≠o¬≠lu¬≠tion bans arms exports to Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Houthis occu¬≠pied Yemen‚Äôs cap¬≠i¬≠tal at the end of 2014 and have been at war with a Sau¬≠di-led coali¬≠tion that backs the coun¬≠try‚Äôs inter¬≠na¬≠tion¬≠al¬≠ly rec¬≠og¬≠nized gov¬≠ern¬≠ment since March 2015.

The Wall Street Jour­nal first report­ed it, reveal­ing it to be an elite French spe­cial forces unit. A local offi­cial with knowl­edge of the block­ade, who spoke to The Asso­ci­at­ed Press on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because he was not autho­rized to speak pub­licly about the details of the oper­a­tion, also stat­ed that France had made the seizure.

The French mil­i­tary did not respond to a request for com­ment on the seizure of the weapon. Nei­ther the US Cen­tral Com­mand nor the UN mis­sion in Iran imme­di­ate­ly respond­ed to ques­tions about the seizure.

France main­tains a naval base in Abu Dhabi, but while main­tain­ing a diplo­mat­ic pres­ence in Iran, it tends to take a more cau­tious approach in the region.

West­ern coun­tries, UN experts and oth­ers have found weapons such as night vision scopes, rifles and mis­siles in Tehran, but Iran has denied arm­ing the Houthis.

In Novem­ber, the U.S. Navy claimed to have found 70 tons of mis­sile fuel com­po­nents hid­den in fer­til­iz­er bags on a ship en route from Iran to Yemen. Houthi bal­lis­tic mis­sile launch­es have pre­vi­ous­ly tar­get­ed Sau­di Ara­bia and the Unit­ed Arab Emirates.

Images tak¬≠en Wednes¬≠day by U.S. Cen¬≠tral Com¬≠mand and ana¬≠lyzed by the Asso¬≠ci¬≠at¬≠ed Press showed var¬≠i¬≠ous weapons aboard an uniden¬≠ti¬≠fied ves¬≠sel believed to be docked in a port.

Weapons are believed to be a Chi¬≠nese-made Type 56 rifle, a Russ¬≠ian-made Molot AKS20U, and a PKM-pat¬≠terned machine gun. Both appear in oth¬≠er arms seizures attrib¬≠uted to Iran.

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