More than 2,000 weapons including assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and mortar tubes were found hidden under nets aboard a small fishing boat bound for Somalia, American and Australian officials said Monday.
A team from Australian frigate HMAS Darwin discovered the cache last month some 195 miles off the coast of Oman.
The U.S. Navy believes the boat had set off from Iran and that the crew were Iranian, Lt. Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, told NBC News in an email.
McConnaughey said an initial assessment indicated the weapons were destined for Yemen to be used by Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels in the country’s civil war.
The weapons were discovered aboard a dhow on Feb. 27 but the find was only announced Monday.
The guns were seized under United Nations sanctions the prohibit the delivery of illegal arms to Somalia. They are expected to be transferred to U.S. custody for further analysis and disposal, McConnaughey added.
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SOURCE: NBC News, Alexander Smith