US says it seized Iranian weapons bound for Houthis as attacks continue

US Central Command said on Thursday that it seized a weapons shipment from Iran last month that had been destined for Houthi rebels, who have been attacking international shipping in the Red Sea.

Within hours of the announcement, an explosion was reported near a vessel off the coast of Yemen, further underscoring how the continuing US-led action against the Iran-backed militants appears to be having little deterrent effect.

In a statement, Centcom said a US Coastguard cutter under its command seized “advanced” conventional weapons and other lethal aid originating in Iran and bound for Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen from a vessel in the Arabian Sea on January 28.

The shipment contained more than 200 packages loaded with missile components, explosives and other devices including anti-tank guided missile launcher assemblies, Centcom said.

“This is yet another example of Iran malign activity in the region,” Centcom head Gen Michael Erik Kurilla said.

“Their continued supply of advanced conventional weapons to the Houthis is in direct violation of international law and continues to undermine the safety of international shipping and the free flow of commerce.”

The Houthis have been targeting international shipping in the Red Sea with missiles and drones since shortly after the Israel-Hamas war began.

Since January 11, the US and UK have struck Houthi military infrastructure in Yemen and the US has conducted dozens of “self-defence” strikes against missiles being readied for launch.

Pentagon Press Secretary Maj Gen Pat Ryder said the US assesses that “some” Houthi capabilities have been degraded through these strikes.