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15 Jan, 2024 23:53

Houthis issue new threat to American ships

The rebel group has vowed to keep up its attacks and target US vessels following Western airstrikes
Houthis issue new threat to American ships

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have vowed more attacks on American shipping interests in the Red Sea region, saying US and UK airstrikes against the Iran-allied group in recent days have made the vessels legitimate targets for destruction.

“The United States is on the verge of losing its maritime security,” Houthi spokesman Nasruldeen Amer told Al Jazeera on Monday. The militant group previously claimed that it would only target Israeli ships and vessels bound for Israel – in solidarity with Hamas amid the war in Gaza – but the spokesman said that in light of the US-UK airstrikes in Yemen, “it is enough for it to be American.”

Houthi militants had already proven that point earlier on Monday, striking a US-owned container ship with a missile in the Gulf of Aden. The US Central Command (CENTCOM) issued a statement saying that the Gibraltar Eagle cargo ship was continuing its journey after the missile attack, which caused no casualties and no major damage. CENTCOM also claimed that a US fighter jet shot down a missile fired from a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen toward the USS Laboon warship, operating in the southern Red Sea, on Sunday.

The Houthis have launched dozens of drone and missile attacks in the Red Sea since the Israel-Hamas war began in October. The group has pledged to continue the attacks until the war ends and humanitarian aid is delivered to the Palestinian enclave. Major transport firms have responded by avoiding the Red Sea passage to the Suez Canal, the fastest cargo route from Asia to Europe, disrupting traffic through an area that normally accounts for 15% of the world’s commercial shipping volumes.

In response, the US and UK have launched an international bombing campaign called Operation Prosperity Guardian, with the stated goal of making the Red Sea safe for commercial shipping traffic. British and American warplanes launched around 70 strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen last Thursday and Friday. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby claimed that the airstrikes had a “good effect,” but a New York Times report on Saturday said the attacks failed to significantly weaken the rebel group’s military potential.

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