2 Missing Navy SEALs Were Stopping Weapons Going to Yemen From Iran

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Two members of the Navy SEALs who were reported missing last week off the coast of Somalia were part of a nighttime commando operation that seized a small boat carrying lethal aid from Iran to the Houthi militia in Yemen, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.

Navy commandos, backed by helicopters and drones hovering overhead, boarded the small boat, called a dhow, on Thursday and seized Iranian-made ballistic-missile and cruise-missile components bound for Yemen, the Pentagon’s Central Command said in a statement.

The seized items included propulsion and guidance systems and warheads for Houthi medium-range ballistic missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles, as well as air-defense components, the statement said. Such weapons transfers to the Houthis violate international law and a United Nations Security Council resolution, the military said.

“Initial analysis indicates these same weapons have been employed by the Houthis to threaten and attack innocent mariners on international merchant ships transiting in the Red Sea,” the statement said.

The Navy boarding was the first seizure by U.S. forces of Iran-supplied weapons to the Houthis since the Iran-backed militants launched the first of more than 30 attacks in November against commercial vessels operating in the Red Sea and nearby waters. It was also the first seizure of advanced Iranian-made ballistic missile and cruise missile components by the Navy since November 2019.

The Houthi militia launched a new round of attacks in shipping lanes critical for global trade over the weekend, damaging a U.S.-owned commercial ship on Monday after attempting to hit an American warship the day before.

The strikes came just days after the U.S. and British militaries unleashed a powerful barrage on militant sites in Yemen, and the Houthi response made clear how difficult it might prove to remove the threat posed to shipping in and around the Red Sea.

After Thursday’s boarding operation, the Navy deemed the dhow unsafe and sank the vessel. Its 14 crew members were taken aboard a Navy ship, according to the military’s statement.

Gen. Michael E. Kurilla, the head of the Central Command, said that the search continued for the two members of the SEALs, operating from the expeditionary vessel Lewis B. Fuller, who were reported lost in the boarding mission.

As the two commandos tried to board the dhow Thursday night in rough seas, one of the men apparently slipped off the boarding ladder or was swept off by a high wave, according to one current and one former Pentagon official who were briefed on the incident. Another member of the team then jumped into the water to try to rescue the sailor, the officials said. Both soon disappeared in the swells.

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2 Missing Navy SEALs Were Stopping Weapons Going to Yemen From Iran

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