An Iranian-flagged cargo ship that is bound for Yemen in defiance of U.S. warnings has entered the Gulf of Aden and is expected to reach port on May 21.
The development on May 17 came hours ahead of the scheduled end of a five-day humanitarian pause in a Saudi-led bombing campaign against the Iranian-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen.
Iranian authorities say the vessel, the Iran Shahed, is carrying 2,500 tons of urgently needed aid – including flour, rice, canned food, medical supplies, and bottled water.
But the mission has been overshadowed by U.S. calls for the ship to head to a United Nations emergency relief hub in Djibouti instead of docking in the Yemeni port of Hodeida.
Passengers on the ship include doctors, journalists, and antiwar activists from the United States, France, and Germany.
A UN envoy on May 17 called for the ceasefire in Yemen to be extended.
Meanwhile, Huthi Shi’ite rebels boycotted political talks in Riyadh on May 17.