Jan. 21 (UPI) — Two Navy SEALs who went missing more than a week ago during an operation in Somalia were declared dead on Sunday, the U.S. military said.
U.S. Central Command in a statement announced that the 10-day search-and-rescue operation for the two missing Navy SEALs has concluded and recovery operations were underway.
“We mourn the loss of our two Naval Special Warfare warriors, and we will forever honor their sacrifice and example,” Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, CETCOM commander, said Sunday.
“Our prayers are with the SEALs’ families, friends, the U.S. Navy and the entire Special Operations community during this time.”
The Navy SEALs went missing Jan. 11 during the seizure of a vessel transporting advanced weaponry from Iran to its proxy militia the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have been attacking commercial ships transiting the Red Sea amid Israel’s war in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.
CENTCOM said the two Navy SEALs were directly involved in the operation that occurred near the coast of Somalia, an East African nation where some 450 U.S. service members are stationed.
Material confiscated in the operation include Iran-made ballistic missiles and cruise missile components, including warheads.
The deceased SEALs have not been identified, and CENTCOM said that out of respect for their families, no further information would be released at this time.
“We mourn the loss of our two brave Navy SEALs, and our hearts are with their families,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement. “The entire department is united in sorrow today. We are grateful to all who worked tirelessly to try to find and rescue them.”
The United States has conducted a series of recent strikes against the Houthi militants in Yemen over its continued attacks against commercial shipping vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
The Houthis vowed to attack vessels heading to Israel over the Middle Eastern country’s war against Hamas, another Iran proxy militia, though they have since widened their scope to seemingly include all vessels.