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15 Jan, 2024 19:35

Houthis hit US ship with missile

The strike on a container ship came after American and British airstrikes reportedly failed to severely degrade the militia’s capabilities
Houthis hit US ship with missile

Yemen’s Houthi militants struck an American container ship with a ballistic missile on Monday, US Central Command said in a statement. The militants have vowed to target merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden in response to Israel’s war on Hamas.

On Monday afternoon, “Iranian-backed Houthi militants fired an anti-ship ballistic missile from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and struck the M/V Gibraltar Eagle, a Marshall Islands-flagged, US-owned and operated container ship,” Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East, said in a statement.

“The ship has reported no injuries or significant damage and is continuing its journey,” the statement continued.

Earlier on Monday, US forces detected the launch of an anti-ship ballistic missile from Yemen, Central Command added, noting that this earlier launch “failed in flight and impacted on land in Yemen.”

The strike came less than a week after the US and UK launched a military operation in the Red Sea, with the stated goal of keeping commercial shipping routes between the Arabian and Mediterranean Seas open via the Suez Canal. 

This passage accounts for around 15% of the world’s shipping traffic, and with Houthi forces launching 28 attacks on merchant vessels as of Monday, major transportation firms including Maersk, MSC, CMA CGM, and Hapag-Lloyd have rerouted their ships around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, a far longer route between Asia and Europe.

Houthi forces have also targeted British and American military vessels operating in the region.

British and American warplanes launched a barrage of around 70 airstrikes on Houthi targets in Yemen last Thursday and Friday. US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby described the strikes as having a “good effect” on their targets, but a New York Times report claimed that only 25% of the Houthis’ military assets were destroyed in the operation.

In a speech to parliament on Monday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that the UK is prepared to take further military action if necessary. American officials told the New York Times that the US could also launch a second wave of strikes.

The American and British bombing campaigns have been condemned by Russia and Türkiye. Moscow called the operations “illegitimate” due to the lack of UN Security Council permission, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the two nations of seeking to turn the Red Sea into a “sea of blood.”