Navy seizes THOUSANDS of Chinese and Russian assault weapons, sniper rifles and anti-tank missiles hidden on ship ‘sailing from Iran to Yemen’ in the Arabian Sea

  • The U.S. Fifth Fleet discovered the weapons aboard a ship in the northern reaches of the Arabian Sea off Oman and Pakistan
  • The Navy found nearly 3,000 Chinese Type 56 assault rifles, a variant of the Kalashnikov, hundreds of other heavy machine guns and sniper rifles
  • Dozens of advanced, Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles were also found
  • The weapons appeared to be bound for Yemen to support the country’s Houthi rebels, Navy officials say
  • Navy’s initial investigation found the vessel came from Iran. Tehran has previously denied providing rebels with weapons
  • This recent seizure appeared to be among the biggest in recent years as the long- running war in Yemen continues

The U.S. Navy has seized an arms shipment of thousands of illicit assault weapons, machines guns and sniper rifles hidden aboard a ship in the Arabian Sea likely headed for Yemen, officials have said.

The U.S. fifth fleet, based in Bahrain, announced on Sunday that the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey discovered the weapons aboard a stateless dhow – a traditional Mideast sailing ship – in an operation that began Thursday in the northern reaches of the Arabian Sea off Oman and Pakistan.

An American defense official said the weapons resembled previous shipments which have been intercepted that were bound for Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The Navy’s initial investigation found the vessel came from Iran, AP reported.

Iran’s mission to the U.N. did not immediately respond to AP’s request for comment on the seizure but Tehran has denied providing rebels with weapons in the past.

The Navy seized nearly 3,000 Chinese Type 56 assault rifles, a variant of the Kalashnikov. They also recovered hundreds of other heavy machine guns and sniper rifles, as well as dozens of advanced, Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles. The shipments also included several hundred rocket-propelled grenade launchers and optical sights for weapons, AP reported.

Sailors boarded the vessel and found the weapons, most wrapped in green plastic, below deck.

‘The cache of weapons included dozens of advanced Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles, thousands of Chinese Type 56 assault rifles, and hundreds of PKM machine guns, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades launchers,’ the U.S Fifth Fleet said in a statement.

‘After all illicit cargo was removed, the dhow was assessed for seaworthiness, and after questioning, its crew was provided food and water before being released,’ the Navy added.

This recent seizure appeared to be among the biggest in recent years as the long- running war in Yemen continues.

The Navy’s Mideast-based Fifth Fleet said they are investigating the weapons origin and destination.

‘The unique blend of materiel recovered by the USS Monterey appears to be consistent with the materiel from previous interdictions, which have been linked to Iran,’ Tim Michetti, an investigative researcher who studies the illicit weapon trade, told AP.