A boat carrying 40 tonnes of fertilizer, the components of which can be used to make explosives, was boarded from Iran on a route used by Yemeni Houthi rebels to stock up on weapons, the US Navy said on Saturday.
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She said she searched the “flagless” vessel – already intercepted a year ago with thousands of weapons on board – after spotting it in international waters in the Gulf of Oman on Tuesday.
“US forces have discovered 40 tons of urea fertilizer, a chemical that can be used for agricultural purposes, but also to make explosives,” adds the US V Fleet, based in Bahrain.
This seizure comes at a time of great tension in the area: on January 17, the Houthis carried out an unprecedented deadly attack in the United Arab Emirates by blowing up tanker trucks with drones and missiles and the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen responded with airstrikes.
The coalition has acknowledged raids on Sanaa and Hodeïda that left at least 17 dead and caused a total internet shutdown in the country, but denies having bombed a prison in Saada, a Houri stronghold in the north, which left at least 70 dead and more than 100 injured.
The United States called for “de-escalation” while the UN called for “effective investigations”.
The coalition and its allies, including the United States, regularly accuse Iran of supporting the Houthis with military means, which Tehran denies.