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15 Jan, 2024 21:02

Missing US SEALs were chasing Iranian weapons – media

Pentagon officials have reportedly revealed that the two sailors were trying to intercept a shipment that was en route to Yemen’s Houthi rebels
Missing US SEALs were chasing Iranian weapons – media

Two US Navy SEALs were reportedly searching for a shipment of Iranian weapons to Yemen’s Houthi rebels when they went missing off the coast of Somalia late last week.

The two were raiding a small sailboat on Thursday night when one of them fell into the rough seas, NBC News reported on Monday, citing unidentified Pentagon officials. The other SEAL jumped into the water to rescue his partner, and both “disappeared into the darkness,” according to the report, later confirmed by Fox News and the Associated Press.

The incident occurred as the SEALs were trying to board a small boat, called a dhow, in the Gulf of Aden. Four days of search and rescue missions since then have failed to locate them.

The disappearance comes amid rising tensions between the US and Iranian-backed militias in the region as Israel’s war with Hamas drags on. Houthi rocket and drone attacks in the Red Sea have disrupted shipping in the region, prompting a US-led international operation to provide safe passage for oil tankers and cargo ships.

The missing special operations sailors, who were attached to the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet, weren’t part of “Operation Prosperity Guardian,” NBC said. Rather, they were among the forces who have conducted missions in recent years to intercept weapons shipments to the Houthis.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced on Friday that the two unidentified SEALs had gone missing while conducting operations off the coast of Somalia. CENTCOM declined to release further details on the sailors and their mission, citing “operational security” and “respect for the families affected.”

The Houthis have launched dozens of attacks in the Red Sea since the Israel-Hamas war began in October, prompting major transport firms to avoid a passage that normally accounts for 15% of the world’s commercial shipping traffic. The rebels responded to a recent round of Western airstrikes on Monday, hitting a US-owned container ship with a missile.