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12 Jan, 2024 13:09

NATO member warns US and UK against Red Sea 'bloodbath'

The two Western nations launched a series of strikes on Friday in response to attacks on shipping by Yemen-based Houthi militants
NATO member warns US and UK against Red Sea 'bloodbath'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the joint US and UK bombing of multiple Houthi targets in Yemen, accusing Washington and London of seeking to turn the Red Sea into a “bloodbath.”

The two Western allies “executed deliberate strikes on over 60 targets at 16 Iranian-backed Houthi militant locations,” US officials said Thursday, with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying that the military action was “necessary and proportionate” to protect global shipping routes in the region.

The Iran-backed Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on ships in the Red Sea, and have pledged to carry out more raids on vessels the group determines to be transporting cargo to Israel. As of Thursday, the rebels had attacked or seized 27 different vessels in the Southern Red Sea since their announcement of solidarity with Palestinians, the Pentagon claimed.

The bombing campaign, which a Houthi military spokesman said numbered 72 strikes in all, represented a “disproportionate use of force,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul on Friday, according to Daily Sabah.

The Turkish leader added that Ankara has learned from various intelligence channels that the Houthi forces were carrying out a “successful defense” against the US and UK. He did not elaborate on the nature of the supposed Houthi response.

The Houthis expressed support with Gaza in late October amid Israel’s prolonged bombardment of the besieged enclave, leading to the series of attacks on Red Sea ships navigating trading routes to Europe and Asia via the Suez Canal.

Several shipping companies have since rerouted shipping lanes around Africa, leading to higher prices and insurance costs.

In its statement on Thursday, the Pentagon said that it had targeted radar systems, drone sites, missile facilities and Houthi command centers with precision strikes. Damage was reported in the capital, Sanaa, as well as the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Dhamar and the northwestern Houthi stronghold of Saada.

A Houthi spokesman said that five of its members died in the bombings, while another six were injured.