US sends more warships near Yemen in security move

Pentagon spokesman denies ships are on a mission to intercept Iranian arms shipments.

April 20, 2015 22:33
1 minute read.
US aircraft carriers

US aircraft carriers [File]. (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON - The US Navy has sent an aircraft carrier and a guided-missile cruiser into the waters near Yemen to conduct maritime security operations, a Pentagon spokesman said on Monday, but he denied the ships were on a mission to intercept Iranian arms shipments.

The US Navy sent the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and its escort cruiser, USS Normandy, from the Gulf into the Arabian Sea on Sunday. Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, denied reports the ships were on a mission to intercept Iranian arms shipments to Yemen.

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The ships will join seven other US warships in the waters near Yemen, which is torn by civil strife as Iranian-backed Houthi rebels battle forces loyal to the US-backed president.

The Shi'ite Muslim Houthi fighters sidelined the central government after seizing the capital Sana'a in September and expanding across Yemen, which borders oil giant Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia and a coalition of its Arab allies have launched air strikes in an effort to stop the advance of the Houthis, a move Tehran has condemned.

One US official said the presence of the US warships off Yemen give American decision-makers options for action in the event the situation deteriorates.

The other US warships in the region include two destroyers, two mine-sweepers and three amphibious ships carrying 2,200 US Marines.

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