Home » US and UK strike Houthi rebel targets in Yemen after ship attacks

US and UK strike Houthi rebel targets in Yemen after ship attacks

The United States and Britain carried out air strikes on Yemen in what they said was a bid to degrade Iran-backed rebels’ maritime attack capabilities, with Houthi media on Friday reporting 14 killed.

The Houthis have been attacking shipping around the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November, citing solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, where Israel has been at war with the militant group Hamas since October 7.

Loud explosions were heard in the capital Sanaa and the port city of Hodeida overnight from Thursday to Friday.

The Houthi-controlled Al-Masirah television channel said 14 people were killed and more than 30 were wounded in the strikes that also targeted telecoms infrastructure in the town of Taez.

The Laax, a Greek-owned, Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier that came under attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels earlier this week. Photo: Etat Major des Armees via AP

It was not immediately possible to independently verify the toll.

The British defence ministry said its planes launched strikes in “a joint operation with US forces against Houthi military facilities to degrade their ability to persist with their attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden”.

The ministry said intelligence indicated two sites near Hodeida had been involved in the attacks on shipping, “with a number of buildings identified as housing drone ground control facilities and providing storage for very long-range drones, as well as surface to air weapons”.

Further south, another site “had also been identified as being involved in the command and control of their anti-shipping campaign”, it said in a statement.

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement that a total of 13 Houthi-held sites were targeted, adding the strikes were “necessary to protect our forces, ensure freedom of navigation, and make international waters safer and more secure”.

Since January, the United States and Britain have launched retaliatory strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen in response to the rebels’ attacks in the vital waterways. The latest strikes were the fifth combined operation.

But the strikes have done little to deter the Houthis, who have vowed to target US and British vessels as well as all ships heading to Israeli ports.

The Iran-backed Houthis said Wednesday that they had attacked a Greek-owned bulk carrier and several other vessels in response to Israeli strikes on the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.

The bulk carrier Laax, a Marshall Islands-flagged and Greek-operated vessel, reported being hit by three missiles, according to CENTCOM and maritime security firms. The vessel was damaged but able to continue its voyage.

In March, a ship loaded with fertiliser sank in the Gulf of Aden after it was damaged by missiles fired by the Houthis.

And in November, the rebels seized the vehicle transporter Galaxy Leader and its crew in a helicopter-borne attack.

The Houthi attacks have prompted some shipping companies to detour around southern Africa to avoid the Red Sea route, which normally carries about 12 per cent of global trade.