US, UK strike eight Houthi targets over Red Sea shipping attacks

A Houthi underground storage site, as well as missile and surveillance capabilities, among targets in latest strikes.

A weapons technician squatting beneath the wing of an RAF typhoon ahead of attacks on Houthi targets in Yemen
The UK used its typhoon fighters in Monday's strikes [Handout/UK Ministry of Defence via Reuters]

The United States and the United Kingdom launched a new round of strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen as the Iran-aligned armed group continues to target commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

A joint statement from the two countries said they had carried out eight strikes on Monday night, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands, targeting a Houthi underground storage site as well as missile and surveillance capabilities.

“These precision strikes are intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities that the Houthis use to threaten global trade and the lives of innocent mariners,” it said.

The Houthis have said the attacks are in response to Israel’s war in Gaza and to show their support for the Palestinians.

The group that controls much of Yemen has attacked dozens of ships in the major waterway since November, disrupting international maritime trade and raising concern about the impact on the global economy.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence said the Houthis have conducted more than 30 attacks on international shipping since mid-November.

It said the attacks on Houthi sites were to hold the group “accountable for their illegal and unjustifiable attacks on mariners and commercial shipping” as well as to “de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea”.

Monday’s strikes came after the Houthis claimed to have conducted a successful attack on the US military cargo ship Ocean Jazz in the Gulf of Aden.

US Naval Forces Central Command described the claims as “patently false” and said it had “maintained constant communications with M/V Ocean Jazz throughout its safe transit”.

The Houthis did not say when or precisely where the attack took place, or if any damage was caused.

UK maritime security firm Ambrey said the vessel named by the Houthis on Monday had been contracted by the US military.

Britain vows to defend Red Sea traffic

British Foreign Minister David Cameron on Tuesday promised to keep hampering the group’s ability to attack shipping.

“What we have done again is send the clearest possible message that we will continue to degrade their ability to carry out these attacks while sending the clearest possible message that we back our words and our warnings with action,” Cameron said.

“Since we last took action 10 days ago, there have been over 12 attacks on shipping by the Houthis. These attacks are illegal. They are unacceptable.”

Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree vowed revenge for the strikes, saying on X: “These attacks will not go unanswered and unpunished.”

An unnamed US military official told The Associated Press news agency that between 25 and 30 munitions were dropped during the joint strikes and that multiple Houthi targets were hit.

He said the attack destroyed advanced weapons in an underground storage facility, adding that it was the first time such advanced weapons were targeted in Yemen.

Longer route

The US and UK militaries launched attacks against Houthi forces on January 11, a day after the United Nations Security Council condemned the rebel group’s attacks on Red Sea shipping and demanded they stop.

On November 19, the Houthis seized the Japanese-operated Galaxy Leader and took it to the port of Hodeidah. The ship’s 25-strong multinational crew, many of them from the Philippines, have been held since.

So far, Houthi activity has been concentrated in the narrow strait of Bab el-Mandeb, which connects the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea. Approximately 50 ships sail through the strait daily, heading to and from the Suez Canal – a key artery for global maritime trade.

Some of the world’s largest shipping companies have suspended operations in the region, instead sending their vessels on the longer route around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa slowing trade between Asia and Europe.


Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies