US Fifth Fleet vessels have intercepted a fishing vessel in the Gulf of Oman carrying 40 tons of urea fertilizer, a material used in agriculture but which could also be used to make explosives.
The destroyer USS Cole and patrol ship USS Chinook “intercepted an unflagged vessel in transit from Iran in international waters, on a route historically used to smuggle arms to the Houthis of Yemen,” Central Command reported US forces in a statement.
The ship was intercepted on January 18 and the cargo, along with five Yemeni crew members, was handed over to the Yemeni Coast Guard on January 21.
The same fishing vessel was caught transporting illegal weapons off the coast of Somalia in February 2021: thousands of AK-47 rifles, light machine guns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers and other war material.
The Fifth Fleet patrols the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, the Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean, as well as the strategic passages of the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Mandeb Strait, the Central Command stressed in its statement.
The war in Yemen faces the internationally recognized government led by Abdo Rabbu Mansur Hadi and backed by an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which includes the United Arab Emirates, and the Houthis, who are backed by Iran.
The rebels control the capital and other areas in the north and west of the country. The main fighting is currently centered in Marib province, despite international mediation efforts, in a war that has created the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis.