Arab coalition forces have reportedly seized an Iranian ship in the Arabian Sea carrying weapon supplies for Yemen's Houthi fighters, the Saudi-led group said Wednesday. The announcement came as the Arab alliance has seen gains against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in recent months, in an attempt to boost President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government.
"The Command of the Coalition... foiled an attempt to smuggle weapons destined to the Houthi militias, on an Iranian fishing boat," the statement said, adding that the vessel was seized over the some 150 miles off the coast of southern Oman, according to Reuters.
Fourteen Iranian sailors were detained on the boat, which was carrying 18 anti-armored Concourse shells, 54 anti-tank shells, shell-battery kits, firing guidance systems, launchers and binoculars, the statement added.
A Saudi-led alliance has been fighting to oust Houthi rebels from Yemen for the last six months, as Arab states view Houthis as an extension of Iranian influence in the region. Arab and Western governments have accused Iran, a regional rival power, of meddling in Yemen’s affairs. Iran has reportedly been secretly arming Houthis since 2009, the United Nations revealed in May.
Yemen’s president during a speech at the United Nations Tuesday accused Iran of destabilizing his country. "We find ourselves mixed in this battle, this fight for the country and the legitimacy of the state to ensure that the country not fall into the hands of Iran, which would like to see the destruction of the country," Hadi told the U.N. General Assembly in New York City.
The U.N. has designated Yemen as one of its highest-level humanitarian crises. About 80 percent of the country is believed to be in need of assistance. Both the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi fighters have been accused by human rights organizations and activists of war crimes. Around 5,000 people have been killed in fighting since late March, according to the U.N., which has called for a long-term humanitarian ceasefire.