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US military declares two Navy SEALs lost at sea ‘deceased’

Two US Navy SEALs who went missing during an operation to seize Iranian weapons bound for Yemen’s Huthi rebels have been declared dead after a 10-day search failed to locate them, the US military said Sunday. The Central Command (CENTCOM) had previously said that two SEALs who were reported as lost at sea were involved in the January 11 operation, in which the elite special operations personnel boarded a dhow off the coast of Somalia and seized missile components made in Iran. “We regret to announce that after a 10-day exhaustive search, our two missing US Navy SEALs have not been located and their status has been changed to deceased,” CENTCOM said in a statement. “The search and rescue operation for the two Navy SEALs reported missing during the boarding of an illicit dhow carrying Iranian advanced conventional weapons… concluded and we are now conducting recovery operations,” the statement said. CENTCOM described the capture of the missile components as “the first seizure of lethal, Iranian-supplied advanced conventional weapons… to the Huthis since the beginning of Huthi attacks against merchant ships in November 2023.” That month, the Huthis began targeting ships in the Red Sea they claimed were linked to Israel — attacks they said were in support of Palestinians in Gaza, where Israeli forces are battling Hamas. The United States and Britain carried out strikes on dozens of rebel targets earlier this month, and American forces have since hit a number of missiles that Washington says were ready to launch and posed a threat to both civilian and military vessels. The Huthis — who declared American and British interests to be legitimate targets — have yet to be deterred, and have continued to carry out attacks on ships. Around 12 percent of global trade normally passes through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, the Red Sea’s entrance between southwest Yemen and Djibouti, but the rebel attacks have caused much shipping to be diverted thousands of miles around Africa.

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