Houthis launch ‘complex’ missile attack
Yemen’s Houthis have fired dozens of missiles and drones toward Red Sea shipping lanes in one of the group’s largest attacks to date. The Pentagon called the offensive a “complex” operation, but claimed to have repelled the strikes.
US Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, announced the attempted attack on Tuesday, saying that several anti-ship missiles and drones were launched “from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen into the Southern Red Sea.”
Eighteen one-way attack drones, two cruise missiles, and one ballistic missile were shot down by American F-18s and a number of US and British warships based in the region, CENTCOM continued, adding “There were no injuries or damage reported.”
The missile and drone barrage marked the Houthis’ 26th attack on commercial shipping lanes in the Red Sea since November 19, according to the US command. The armed group, which controls swathes of Yemen, has vowed to step up operations in the wake of Israel’s assault on Gaza, launched in response to a deadly Hamas terrorist attack late last year.
In November, the Houthis declared that all ships “belonging to the Israeli enemy or that deal with it” would become “legitimate targets,” following Israel’s retaliatory strikes on Gaza, and later released dramatic footage showing fighters capturing a vessel alleged to be linked to the Jewish state. Subsequent reports indicate the ship was operated by a Japanese firm, flagged under the Bahamas and carrying an international crew, but owned in part by Israeli businessman Rami Ungar.
US military sources cited by CNN confirmed that three American destroyers helped to neutralize Houthi missiles on Tuesday, but placed the total number of downed projectiles at 24. It remains unclear whether they were fired at the same time or from the same site, though one unnamed official said additional details would be shared when available.
The Houthis have yet to comment on the latest attack in a formal statement, but an unnamed military official from the group told Al Jazeera that its forces had “targeted a ship linked to Israel in the Red Sea,” offering no elaboration.
The Red Sea serves as a major transit hub for the region’s petroleum products, with nearly 10% of the global oil trade and an estimated $1 trillion in goods passing through the narrow Bab el-Mandeb Strait each year.