US and British strikes on Houthi bases in Yemen respond to militant surge in Red Sea attacks on ships

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and Britain hit 18 Houthi goals Yemen On Saturday, it responded to recent attacks by Iran-backed militias on ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, including a missile attack last week. They set the cargo ship on fire.

According to US officials, US and British warplanes struck bases in eight locations targeting missiles, missiles, rockets, drones and air defense systems. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to provide preliminary details of the ongoing military operation.

This is The fourth time was the United States and the British Army A coordinated operation against the Houthis has been underway since January 12. But the U.S. has been conducting almost daily strikes against Houthi targets, including incoming missiles and drones targeting ships and weapons ready to launch.

The US F/A-18 fighter jets were launched from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier, which is currently in the Red Sea, officials said.

“The United States will not hesitate to take action as necessary to protect the free flow of life and commerce on one of the world's most important waterways,” said US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. “We will continue to make it clear to the Houthis that they will bear the consequences if they do not stop their illegal attacks.”

In a statement, the US, UK and other allies said “required and proportionate strikes specifically targeted 18 Houthi targets in 8 locations in Yemen”, including underground storage facilities, radar and helicopters.

“These precision strikes are intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities the Houthis use to threaten global trade, naval vessels and the lives of innocent seafarers in one of the world's most important waterways,” the report said.

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The strikes have support from a broad coalition that includes Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

President Joe Biden and other senior leaders have repeatedly warned that the United States will not tolerate Houthi attacks against commercial shipping. But counterattacks It didn't seem to decrease Militants say the Houthis' campaign against shipping in the region is over Israel's War Against Hamas In the Gaza Strip.

“Our aim is to defuse tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea, but we will reiterate our warning to the Houthi leadership: We will not hesitate to continue to protect lives and the free flow of trade in the face of continued threats,” the statement said on Saturday.

The Houthis have launched at least 57 attacks on commercial and military vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November 19, and the pace has increased in recent days.

“We've certainly seen an increase in attacks by the Houthis over the last 48, 72 hours,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said at a briefing on Thursday. She acknowledged that the Houthis were not deterred.

“We never said we wiped all their capabilities off the map,” he told reporters. “We know the Houthis maintain a large arsenal. They are very talented. They have sophisticated weapons, and this is because they continue to receive them from Iran.

There have been at least 32 US strikes in Yemen in the past month and a half; A few alliances were held with involvement. In addition, US warships have taken out dozens of incoming missiles, rockets and drones targeting merchant and other naval vessels.

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Earlier on Saturday, the destroyer USS Mason shot down an anti-ship missile fired from Houthi-held areas in Yemen toward the Gulf of Yemen, which the US Central Command said may have targeted the US-flagged MV Torm Thor. , and powered chemical and oil tankers.

US strikes against the Houthis have targeted more than 120 missiles, more than 10 surface-to-air missiles, 40 storage and support buildings, 15 drone storage buildings, more than 20 unmanned aerial, surface and underwater vehicles, and several underground storage areas. And some other facilities.

The rebels' supreme leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, announced last week an “increase in naval operations” by his forces as part of a pressure campaign to end Israel's war on Hamas.

But while the group says the attacks are aimed at ending that war, the Houthis' targeting has grown inconsistent and threatens a key waterway for cargo and energy exports from Asia and the Middle East to Europe.

During normal operations, about 400 merchant ships pass through the Southern Red Sea at any given time. Although Houthi attacks have actually hit a small number of ships, a series of targets shot down by the United States and allies and near misses have prompted shipping companies to divert their ships from the Red Sea.

Instead, they shipped around Africa via the Cape of Good Hope – a much longer, more expensive and less efficient route. The threats led the United States and its allies to set up a joint mission to provide a protective umbrella of air defense to warships of participating nations while sailing between the Suez Canal and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

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In Thursday's attack in the Gulf of Aden, the Houthis fired two missiles at the Palau-flagged cargo ship Islander, according to the Central Command. A European naval force in the area said the attack started a fire and injured a sailor on board, although the ship continued on its way.

Central Command launched strikes on Houthi-held areas of Yemen on Friday, destroying seven mobile anti-ship missiles the military said were poised to launch into the Red Sea.

Central Command also said Saturday that a Houthi attack on a Belize-flagged ship on February 18 caused an 18-mile (29-kilometer) oil slick. The military warned of the risk of a spill from the ship's fertilizer cargo. Rubymar, a British-registered, Lebanese-operated cargo ship, attacked While sailing through the Bab el-Mandeb strait connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The missile attack forced the ship to abandon its route to Bulgaria after leaving Korfakan in the United Arab Emirates. It was carrying more than 41,000 tonnes of fertiliser, according to a Central Command report.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the ship was leaking oil in the Red Sea, citing satellite images from the BBC's Planet Labs of the stricken vessel.

Yemen's internationally recognized government on Saturday called on other countries and maritime security organizations to quickly address the oil spill to “prevent a significant environmental disaster”.

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Associated Press writer Sammy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.

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