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US captures 'Iranian missiles' en route to Yemen's Houthi rebels

Yemen's Houthi rebels are backed by Iran [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 December, 2019

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Officials said it was the first that such sophisticated missile components have been seized en route to Yemen.

A US Navy warship has seized a "significant cache" of suspected Iranian guided missile parts headed to rebels in Yemen, officials said on Wednesday.

The officials said this is the first time that such sophisticated missile components have been seized en route to Yemen.

The seizure from a small boat by the US Navy and a US Coast Guard boarding team happened last Wednesday in the northern Arabian Sea, and the weapons have been linked to Iran, which backs Yemen's Houthi rebels.

Officials say the incident illustrates the continuing illegal smuggling of weapons to Houthi rebels and comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, with Iran the main topic on the agenda.

The Israeli premier travelled to Portugal on Wednesday to meet with the secretary of state to call for increased pressure on Iran's "tottering" government.

He said US President Donald Trump's sanctions against Iran were paying dividends and that he would be urging Pompeo to take further steps.

"I think President Trump has placed tremendous pressures and sanctions on Iran," he said.

"We're seeing the Iranian empire totter. We see demonstrations in Tehran, demonstrations in Baghdad, demonstrations in Beirut. It's important to increase this pressure against Iranian aggression."

Tehran and Washington DC have increasingly been at odds since Trump withdrew from the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal last year.

A series of attacks on oil infrastructure and tankers in the Gulf blamed on Iran, in addition to the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker by British forces and the subsequent seizures of foreign tankers by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, have seen tensions soar.

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