Two missing Navy SEALs lost off coast of Somalia believed dead

The pair of Navy SEALs who went missing during a night mission off the coast of Somalia on Jan. 11 are dead, U.S. Central Command announced Sunday.

The SEALs were on an interdiction mission, climbing onto the side of a vessel when one fell into the water. The second SEAL dove in after him. After an “exhaustive” 10-day search, they could not be found, Central Command said.

“We mourn the loss of our two Naval Special Warfare warriors, and we will forever honor their sacrifice and example. Our prayers are with the SEALs’ families, friends, the U.S. Navy, and the entire Special Operations community during this time,” Gen. Michael Kurilla said in a statement.

The SEALs mission saw the elite unit deployed to intercept a dhow sailing boat bound for Yemen. The team found Iranian missile parts set to be delivered to Houthi militants in Yemen, the group that has for weeks shot at civilian and military ships in the Red Sea.

The ship was sunk, and its crew captured by the SEALs. The operation marked an escalation against Iran in the Yemeni conflict, after the U.S. and UK launched joint airstrikes on Houthi targets last week.

Central Command said the search effort searched over 21,000 square miles of ocean and included assistance from the Japanese and Spanish navies.

The Houthi militants have continued strikes on civilian cargo shipping and U.S. warships despite numerous U.S. airstrikes on their positions. The escalation of the decade-old Yemeni Civil War threatens the global shipping market and could mark a new regional war in the Middle East.

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