Thursday, April 25

US, UK warplanes strike Houthi-linked targets again in Yemen

The United States and Britain carried out a new round of large-scale military strikes on Saturday against several sites in Yemen controlled by Houthi militants, US officials said.

The strikes were aimed at degrading the Iranian-backed militants’ ability to attack ships in shipping lanes critical to global trade, a campaign they have been waging for nearly four months.

American and British warplanes hit missile systems, launchers and other targets, the officials said. Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand supported the operation, according to a joint statement from the countries involved emailed to journalists by the Defense Ministry.

The strikes, which the statement described as “necessary and proportionate”, hit 18 targets in eight sites in Yemen associated with Houthi underground weapons storage facilities, missile storage facilities, one-way attack unmanned aerial systems, air defense systems, radars and a helicopter.

“These precision strikes aim to disrupt and degrade the capabilities the Houthis use to threaten global trade, warships and the lives of innocent sailors in one of the world’s most critical waterways,” the statement said .

The strikes are the largest salvo since allies struck Houthi targets on February 3 and come after a week in which the Houthis launched attack drones and cruise and ballistic missiles at ships in the sea Red and the Gulf of Aden.

In a statement provided to The Associated Press, the Houthis denounced “US-British aggression” and said they would not be deterred. “The Yemeni armed forces affirm that they will confront the US-British escalation with more qualitative military operations against all hostile targets in the Red and Oman seas to defend our country, our people and our nation,” it said. the press release.

On Monday, Houthi militants fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles at a cargo ship, US Central Command said in a statement. The ship, called Sea Champion, continued on its way to its destination at the port of Aden in Yemen, the statement added. Central Command reported several other tit-for-tat attacks that day between U.S. forces in the region and the Houthis.

Thursday was pretty much the same. US warplanes and a ship belonging to a member of the US-led coalition shot down six Houthi attack drones in the Red Sea, the central command said in another statement. The drones “likely targeted U.S. and coalition warships and posed an imminent threat,” he added.

Later in the day, the statement said, the Houthis fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles from southern Yemen towards the Gulf of Aden, hitting the Islander, a Palau-flagged British cargo carrier. The ship was damaged and one person was slightly injured.

And earlier Saturday, the naval destroyer USS Mason shot down what Central Command said was an anti-ship ballistic missile launched from Yemen into the Gulf of Aden.

The Houthis say their attacks are a protest against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, launched in response to Hamas attacks in Israel on October 7.

US-led retaliatory air and naval strikes against Houthi targets began last month.

“The Houthis have launched more than 45 attacks on commercial and military vessels since mid-November, which pose a threat to the global economy, as well as regional security and stability, and demand an international response,” the statement said. statement released Saturday by the U.S.-led coalition. .

In a separate statement Saturday evening, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said the Houthi attacks “are harming Middle Eastern economies, causing environmental damage, and disrupting the delivery of humanitarian aid to Yemen and to other countries”.

The United States and several allies have repeatedly warned the Houthis of dire consequences if rescuers do not stop. But US-led strikes have so far failed to deter the Houthis. Hundreds of ships were forced to take a long detour around southern Africa, driving up costs.

Of all the Iranian-backed militias that have escalated hostilities in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, the Houthis have perhaps been the most difficult to subdue. As the Houthis continue their attacks, Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria appear to be enjoying a period of quiet since the United States carried out a series of strikes against Iranian forces and the militias it supports in Syria and Iraq February 2.

Middle East experts say that after nearly a decade dodging airstrikes in a war with Saudi Arabia, the Houthis have become adept at hiding their weapons, placing some in urban areas and firing missiles from the back of vehicles before fleeing.