Iran ‘probably’ smuggled weapons into Yemen according to UN report

The United Nations found that thousands of weapons recently seized in the Arabian Sea likely came from a single port in Iran, evidence that Tehran is exporting arms to Yemen and elsewhere, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Yemen has been racked by war since 2014, facing rebels Houthi backed by Iran against the internationally recognized government and a military force led by Saudi Arabia.

Citing a confidential report by a UN Security Council panel of experts on Yemen, the Journal wrote on Saturday that ships and land transport were used to smuggle weapons made in Russia, China and Iran to Yemen.

The weapons included rocket launchers, machine guns and sniper rifles, which had been seized by the US Navy in recent months.

“The combination of weapons indicates a common pattern of supply, probably from government stocks, involving dhows [barcos] in the Arabian Sea, transporting weapons to Yemen and Somalia”, the report says.

The UN report names Tehran as Yemen’s arms supplier.

The UN imposed an arms embargo on the Houthis in 2015.

U.S, as well as its ally Saudi Arabia, which leads the military coalition backing the Yemeni government, have long accused Iran of supplying the Houthis with weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

Iranian authorities did not immediately respond to the report. A Houthi official in Yemen denied this, calling the Iranian arms smuggling allegations “an illusion.”

“Seaports and airports are closed, so how can these alleged weapons get to us?” Nasr al-Din Amir, deputy head of the Houthi information ministry, was quoted by the Journal.

Jask port in Iran

The ships used to transport the weapons left the port of Jask, in the southeast of Iran, as found in the report of the UN, based on interviews with the ship’s crew and data from the navigation instruments on board.

In recent months, fighting in Yemen have led the coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia to carry out air strikes against the rebel capital, Sanaa.

Riyadh has said its 2015 intervention in Yemen was aimed at preventing an Iranian ally from taking power on its doorstep.

The UN estimates that the Yemen war directly or indirectly killed 377,000 people. More than 80 percent of the population of around 30 million requires humanitarian assistance.

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