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US searches for SEALs lost at sea during mission to seize Iran-made warheads

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The U.S. Central Command announced a search-and-rescue mission for two U.S. Navy SEALs lost at sea during an operation in the Arabian Sea on Thursday, Jan. 11. The SEALs went missing during a ship-boarding mission to confiscate Iranian-made missile warheads and other weapons parts.

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According to The Washington Post, one Navy SEAL slipped off a ladder while trying to board the dhow, a trading vessel sometimes used by smugglers to carry illicit weapons. The dhow, lacking proper identification, was believed to be carrying military weapons.

Another Navy SEAL dove into the water to save their team member after witnessing the fall. Both SEALs were swept away by intense waves and have not been publicly identified.

As rescue efforts unfolded, the remaining Navy SEALs continued their mission, seizing advanced weaponry from the ship. The U.S. military revealed on Tuesday, Jan. 15, that the mission dealt a blow to Yemen militants’ resupply of weapons in the Red Sea.

Photos released by the U.S. Central Command show the seized equipment, including a cruise missile with a turbojet engine, propulsion and guidance devices, and weapons parts used for air defense. The U.S. investigation indicated that the seized missile and parts were likely intended for use by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, potentially violating international law and a U.N. resolution.

Following the seizure, U.S. officials sank the vessel, deeming it unsafe.

All 14 crew members were taken into U.S. custody.

The operation, assisted by helicopters and drones, took place near Somalia. However, the origin of the ship that carried Iran-made weapons remains unclear.

The U.S. military’s announcement followed Iran’s ballistic missile attack in Iraq and Syria. The attack resulted in a missile striking near a U.S. Consulate in Iraq.

With Iran’s continued aggression, attacks by Yemen militants, and U.S.-led retaliatory strikes against Houthi rebels, tensions are escalating in the region. U.S. officials fear that if Houthi rebels obtain more weapons from Iran, they will use them in further attacks, potentially affecting commercial ships and global trade in the Red Sea.

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[LAUREN TAYLOR]

WE’RE LEARNING NEW DETAILS ABOUT TWO MISSING U-S NAVY SEALS.

A MASSIVE SEARCH AND RESCUE MISSION — IS NOW UNDERWAY IN THE ARABIAN SEA.

U-S OFFICIALS REVEAL — THEY WENT MISSING AS PART OF AN OPERATION NEAR SOMALIA —

TO SEIZE ADVANCED IRANIAN-WEAPONRY BOUND FOR HOUTHI REBELS.

ONE COMMANDO SLIPPED FROM A LADDER — WHILE TRYING TO CLIMB ABOARD THE SHIP —

U-S INTELLIGENCE SUSPECTED OF CARRYING ARMS, THE ROUGH SEAS KNOCKING HIM INTO OPEN WATERS.

A TEAMMATE DOVE IN TO HELP — BUT THE INTENSITY OF THE WATERS SWEPT HIM AWAY, TOO.

NOW, BOTH ARE LOST AT SEA.

NEITHER HAVE BEEN PUBLICLY IDENTIFIED.

WHILE EFFORTS TO FIND THE SEALS BEGAN — THE REST OF THE ELITE SQUAD TURNED TO THE MISSION AT-HAND.

THE U-S MILITARY REVEALED MORE TUESDAY — ABOUT WHAT THEY FOUND DURING THE HIGH-STAKES MISSION…

INCLUDING WARHEADS FOR CRUISE AND BALLISTIC MISSILES…

AN APPARENT CRUISE MISSILE WITH A TURBOJET ENGINE…

PROPULSION… AND GUIDANCE DEVICES AND PARTS USED FOR AIR DEFENSE.

U-S ANALYSIS DETERMINED THESE WEAPONS ARE LIKELY THE SAME USED TO LAUNCH ATTACKS AGAINST THE U-S AND ITS ALLIES IN THE RED SEA — WHICH WOULD BE A VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW BY IRAN.

AFTER THE SEIZURE, U-S FORCES TOOK ALL 14 CREW MEMBERS INTO CUSTODY AND THEN SANK THE VESSEL — DEEMING IT UNSAFE.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE SEIZURE OF IRANIAN WARHEADS — COMES ON THE HEELS OF IRAN’S BALLISTIC MISSILE STRIKES IN BOTH IRAQ AND SYRIA, MONDAY.

ONE MISSILE HIT A BUILDING NEAR A U-S CONSULATE.

FOUR PEOPLE WERE KILLED… AND NO U-S PERSONNEL WERE INJURED.

THE AGGRESSION BY IRAN… THE ATTACKS BY YEMEN MILITANTS IN THE RED SEA… AND THE U-S-LED RETALIATORY STRIKES —

HAVE CREATED A PRESSURE COOKER OF TENSION.

REBELS HAVE CONDUCTED DRONE STRIKES… AND SHOT MISSILES AT COMMERCIAL SHIPS — WITH ONE MISSILE HITTING A U-S-OWNED VESSEL.

THE IRANIAN-BACKED GROUP FROM YEMEN SAYS THE STRIKES ARE IN RESPONSE TO ISRAEL’S WAR IN GAZA AND U-S SUPPORT OF ITS WAR EFFORTS.

HOWEVER, SOME OF THE SHIPS THEY HAVE ATTACKED ARE NOT CLEARLY LINKED TO ISRAEL, PUTTING ANY SHIP CARRYING CARGO AT-RISK AND THROWING A WRENCH INTO GLOBAL TRADE.