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21 Dec, 2023 06:41

Houthi fighters threaten to strike US warships

The threat follows news of Washington planning to set up a coalition to stop attacks on cargo vessels
Houthi fighters threaten to strike US warships

US warships will be attacked if Yemen's Houthis are targeted by Washington, the group’s leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi warned on Wednesday, reacting to the news of the US setting up a coalition to counter their attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

Since last month, the militants have been firing missiles at international vessels sailing through the Red Sea. The attacks have been disrupting maritime traffic, with the group claiming the attacks were in response to Israel's strikes in Gaza.

On Monday US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin announced operation ‘Prosperity Guardian’ which brings together ten countries to “jointly address security challenges in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, with the goal of ensuring freedom of navigation for all countries and bolstering regional security and prosperity.” The group includes eight NATO countries: the US, UK, Netherlands, Canada, France, Italy, Norway and Spain, as well as Bahrain and Seychelles. The coalition is planning to jointly patrol the sensitive area in order to repel and respond to Houthi attacks.

Following the US announcement, Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said “any American targeting of our country will be targeted by us,” adding “US battleships, interests, and navigation will in this case be made a target for their missiles, drones, and military operations,” in a televised address on Wednesday. He also warned the US against sending soldiers to Yemen, saying they would “face something harsher than what they faced in Afghanistan and what they suffered in Vietnam.”

Houthi leaders say they have been pursuing Israel and all Israel-bound vessels in the Red Sea due to hostilities in Gaza. The current Gaza conflict began on October 7 when Hamas fighters attacked Israel, killing about 1,200 people. Israel’s retaliatory bombardment of the Palestinian enclave, which Israeli officials say is aimed at wiping out the militant group, has left nearly 20,000 dead so far, according to Gaza health officials.

The violence continued with the Houthis claiming responsibility for two attacks in the Red Sea on Monday. Earlier, on Saturday, the US and UK authorities said their warships have shot down 15 hostile drones over the Red Sea.

The attacks have disrupted a key trade route that links Europe and North America with Asia via the Suez Canal and caused delays in deliveries and container shipping costs to skyrocket as shipping companies are taking alternative, often longer, routes to try to avoid the Red Sea.

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