(LibertySociety.com) – U.S. Navy SEALs often conduct interdiction missions to seize weapons and equipment from ships bound for terrorist-controlled countries. One such mission has resulted in two SEALs missing in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia after they attempted to board a vessel to conduct a flag check on January 11. According to a U.S. official, they were climbing a ladder while on the ship when a large wave rocked the boat and knocked one of them into the sea. The second SEAL dove into the water to help his partner, but they both disappeared into the sea.
The SEALs were looking for weapons supplied by Iran and on their way to Houthi rebels in Yemen. United States Central Command released a statement on January 16, announcing that the operation resulted in the seizure of ballistic missiles and cruise missiles manufactured in Iran. Both types have been used by Houthis to attack commercial ships navigating through the Red Sea in recent weeks. The statement accused Iran of sowing instability, noting that the shipment was “in direct violation of U.N. Security Resolution 2216 and International law.” The seizure was the first of its kind since the Houthis began their attacks on commercial ships back in November.
US CENTCOM Commander General Michael Erik Kurilla assured Americans that the search for the two SEALs was still underway, noting that they were part of the operation. The Navy ultimately sank the vessel after seizing the weapons and equipment. Fourteen crew members were also taken into custody. CENTCOM also said that no additional details would be released, but that the two SEALs were part of the U.S. 5th Fleet.
National Security Spokesman John Kirby spoke about the matter on CBS’s Face the Nation on January 14, confirming that the mission was not related to the United States military strikes in Yemen. He said that the SEAL operations are standard and have been happening for “some time to try to disrupt that flow of weapons supplies to Yemen.” Kirby said that the United States was not aiming to create conflict with Yemen.
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