SANAA: The United States confirmed Monday it was monitoring Iranian vessels suspected of carrying weapons to Huthi rebels in Yemen as it bolstered its own naval presence in the Arabian Sea with an aircraft carrier.
The US Navy said it had sent the USS Theodore Roosevelt escorted by guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy “to ensure the vital shipping lanes in the region remain open and safe”, bringing the number of American ships in the area to nine.
The Iranian convoy is comprised of nine ships, including two patrol boats, a senior defense official told AFP, saying its exact destination was unknown.
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren denied reports the US ships have orders to intercept Iranian vessels carrying weapons for the Huthis.
Meanwhile on the ground the conflict showed no signs of abating Monday as coalition air strikes on a missile depot in the rebel-held capital sparked explosions that killed at least 28 people and wounded nearly 300.
Yemen, strategically located near key shipping routes and bordering oil-rich Saudi Arabia, was plunged into chaos last year when the Iran-backed Huthi Shiite rebels seized Sanaa.
A coalition of Sunni Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia launched the air campaign against them last month, vowing to restore the authority of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled to Riyadh as the militiamen advanced on his southern refuge of Aden.
The United States says it is not taking part directly in the strikes, but is providing intelligence and logistical support.