Arab coalition forces have launched operations against Houthi militia seafarers after they attacked a ship reportedly carrying humanitarian supplies off Yemen’s coast.
The coalition fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen said “air and naval forces were targeting militia boats
involved the attack”. Civilian passengers were rescued and no crew members were hurt, a late Saturday statement said.
The vessel, an Australian-built high-speed logistics catamaran under lease to the UAE military, was attacked by Houthi fighters near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait off Yemen’s southern coast on Saturday. The coalition said the incident showed that Houthi tactics involved what it called “terrorist attacks” against civilian international navigation in the waterway.
The Houthis claimed their forces destroyed a United Arab Emirates military vessel that was advancing towards the Red Sea port of Mokha.
“Armed forces destroyed with a missile a military vessel belonging to the forces of the UAE,” a Houthi military official was quoted as saying by the Saba Yemeni news agency, run by the rebels since they seized the capital, Sanaa, last year.
The vessel, belonging to the UAE Marine Dredging Company, was “on its usual route to and from Aden to transfer relief and medical aid and evacuate wounded civilians to complete their treatment outside Yemen”, the coalition statement said.
Hundreds of Emirati soldiers in an Arab alliance have been fighting the Houthis and training Yemeni troops in Aden to help rebuild a state loyal to exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
In 2013, more than 3.4 million barrels of oil per day passed through the 20km wide Bab el-Mandeb strait, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
A senior Emirati commander was among dozens killed in a Tochka rocket strike in 2015 on an army camp near Bab el-Mandeb, one of the bloodiest setbacks for Gulf forces in months of fighting.
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