WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy boarded a boat in the Persian Gulf region and seized anti-tank missiles and three surface-to-air missiles it said were of Iranian origin and destined for rebel fighters in Yemen.

Sailors from the USS Normandy boarded the boat — a traditional dhow — on Feb. 9 and seized “150 ‘Dehlavieh’ anti-tank guided missiles, which are Iranian-manufactured copies of Russian” missiles, according to a statement Thursday from U.S. Central Command.

“Other weapons components seized aboard the dhow were of Iranian design and manufacture and included three Iranian surface-to-air missiles, Iranian thermal imaging weapon scopes and Iranian components for unmanned aerial and surface vessels, as well as other munitions and advanced weapons parts,” according to the statement, which didn’t disclose the location of the confrontation.

The seizure comes as tensions in the region remain high after the U.S. killed a top Iranian general in Iraq last month, and Tehran responded by firing a barrage of missiles at two American bases in Iraq. The U.S. has tightened economic sanctions and sent additional forces to the Middle East over the past year to confront Iran, which it says is pursuing nuclear weapons and fueling conflicts across the Mideast.

Iran has denied providing weapons to the Houthi rebels, who have taken credit for staging attacks on neighboring Saudi Arabia, since the conflict in Yemen broke out almost five years ago.

The Navy said in the statement that the weapons captured were similar to those seized in a November 2019 operation that were also “determined to be of Iranian origin and assessed to be destined for the Houthis in Yemen, which would be in violation of a UN Security Council Resolution that prohibits the direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer of weapons to the Houthis.”

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PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): USIRAN-BOAT

Copyright 2020 Tribune Content Agency.

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