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Yemen seizes weapons vessel with Iranian crew

Yemen says detained Iranians are weapons experts

Yemen's navy seized on Monday an Iranian ship loaded with anti-tank weapons off its north-west coast in the Red Sea, an Al Arabiya correspondent in Sanaa reported, citing informed government sources.

The sources added that five Iranians and one Indian aboard the ship were detained and immediately taken to the capital Sanaa for investigation.

The ship was reportedly heading to Yemen’s northern coast to unload its weapons’ shipment in an area where it could be temporally hidden before being transported to the Houthi rebels in the Saada province.

The six-member crew aboard the ship were weapons experts who were sent to Yemen to replace other Iranians fighting alongside the Houthi rebels and who are thought to be wounded in battles with the government forces.

Yemen has repeatedly accused the Muslim Shiite-run Iran of backing the Shiite Zaidi rebels who took arms agains the Arab state’s government in 2004.

The conflict between the two intensified in August when government forces launched Operation Scorched Earth against the rebels after several failed attempts to reach a peaceful deal.

(Written by Mustapha Ajbaili)