U.S. military forces are “closely monitoring” an Iranian ship bound for Yemen that is said to contain aid for the warring factions in that country, according to multiple Pentagon officials.
The aid ship is reported to be accompanied by at least two Iranian warships also in the region, where Iran and the United States are supporting opposite sides in the conflict between rebel forces and the Yemeni government.
Western nations suspect that Iran has been using so-called aid ships to help deliver weapons and other military supplies to the Yemeni rebels.
The Iranian aid ship is expected to arrive on Thursday. The Pentagon has been “closely monitoring” the ship’s movements, according to a senior Pentagon official.
Another Defense Department spokesman said that the United States continues “to monitor the activity in the Gulf of Aden with respect to the Iranian humanitarian aid ship,” which will be subject to inspections by the United Nations.
Iran claims that the ship currently bound for Yemen contains pharmaceuticals and medial equipment. It has agreed to let international inspectors examine the cargo before proceeding to Yemen.
U.S. officials have encouraged Iran to deliver aid in a transparent manner.
“Providing assistance through the established international humanitarian system is a proven effective means of providing humanitarian assistance to those in need,” Maj. Roger Cabiness II, a Defense Department spokesman, said on Thursday.
“We encourage all parties to allow for the unimpeded entry and delivery of essential relief items to the civilian population, including urgently needed food, medicine, and fuel, through U.N. and international humanitarian organization channels,” he said.
The United States continues to work with Saudi Arabia to combat the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Cabiness added.
Read more: http://freebeacon.com/national-security/u-s-forces-closely-monitoring-iranian-warships-near-yemen/