MANAMA, Bahrain, April 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy announced the seizure of a shipment of weapons it said originated in Iran and was headed to Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The coastal patrol ship USS Sirocco "intercepted and seized" the weapons, which included 1,500 AK-47 automatic rifles, 200 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 21 .50-caliber machine guns in the Arabian Sea, the U.S. Navy said in a statement. It added that the weapons were taken from a "small, stateless dhow," -- a kind of traditional sailboat commonly found in the Indian Ocean. The boat and its crew were released after the weapons were removed.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Gravely assisted in the action, the statement said.
The March 28 incident was the third seizure of weapons in the Arabian Sea in a month. The French destroyer FS Provence seized 2,000 AK-47s, 64 Dragunov rifles and nine anti-tank missiles from a dhow on March 20, and the Australian Navy's HMAS Darwin captured a similar cache on Feb. 27.
In each case it was determined the weapons originated in Iran, which is backing the Houthi rebels against the Yemeni government. The government is supported by a bloc of Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, in a conflict in which more than 6,000 have been killed; al-Qaida is exploiting the conflict to establish a base of operations in Yemen.