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U.S. Navy Sends Aircraft Carrier To Coast Of Yemen

The U.S. Navy has dispatched an aircraft carrier to waters off the coast of Yemen.

As NPR's Jackie Northam reports, the vessels are joining others in the region in an increasing show of force. She filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"The U.S. Navy says it's deploying the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the guided-missile cruiser Normandy to the Gulf of Aden to ensure the vital shipping lanes in the volatile region remain open and safe.

"The two U.S. warships had been stationed in the Persian Gulf. The decision comes in the midst of fighting between Yemen's government and Houthi rebels allied with Iran.

"A Saudi-led air campaign has been targeting the Houthis. Western governments believe Iran supplies the Houthis militants in Yemen with weapons, which Iran denies. Last week, the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on the Houthis."

Citing two unnamed defense officials, USA Today reports that the ships are also tracking "a convoy of Iranian ships headed to the Gulf of Aden."

The paper adds:

"The Roosevelt began steaming toward Yemen Sunday, said a Navy official who was not authorized to speak about the issue publicly. With the Roosevelt, the Navy now has nine warships off Yemen, the Navy official said. The Navy usually has amphibious ships for landing troops and gear in the region. The Roosevelt 'significantly' adds to the Navy's firepower there.

"The Pentagon has been tracking the progress of the Iranian ships since last week, one of the Defense officials said."

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The implication is, of course, that those Iranian ships could be carrying weapons intended for the Houthis.