Naval forces from the United States and the United Kingdom operating in the Red Sea have initiated air strikes targeting Houthi rebels in various locations across Yemen.
According to US authorities, a combination of Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from warships and fighter jets have struck over a dozen sites. These include areas in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, and Hudaydah, a key Houthi stronghold on the Red Sea.
These air strikes are a direct response to the Houthi’s continuous assaults on commercial vessels traversing the Red Sea, instigated by the group backed by Iran.
The Houthis, aligning themselves with Hamas, assert their attacks are aimed at vessels associated with Israel.
The Houthis claim their attacks are a retaliation against Israel’s military actions in the Gaza Strip, and they have initiated a series of drone and missile strikes targeting Israel.
According to US officials, the early Friday strikes in Yemen focused on Houthi-operated sites, including logistics centers, air defense installations, and weapon storage areas, as reported to the Associated Press.
Reuters reports a statement from US President Joe Biden confirming the success of the US and UK military strikes on Houthi positions, with support from nations including Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands.
President Biden said “These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation.”
Biden also stated his readiness to authorize further military actions if deemed necessary.
This operation marks the first US military intervention in the Red Sea since the commencement of Houthi drone and missile attacks on shipping lines in November.
The Houthi rebels’ targeting of merchant ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden with missiles and drones poses significant risks to lives and global economic stability, besides creating regional instability.
The UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in a statement on Friday, acknowledged the strikes as a restrained, necessary, and proportional response in self-defence.
Sunak condemned the Houthi militia’s hazardous and destabilizing assaults on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, criticizing their ignorance of international warnings.
He reiterated the UK’s commitment to safeguarding maritime navigation and uninterrupted trade.
On January 9, HMS Diamond and US warships successfully thwarted the most significant Houthi assault in the Red Sea.
The same day, Houthis claimed an attack on a US ship aiding Israel. This marked the 26th such attack on commercial shipping in the Red Sea since November 19.
There has been a 500% increase in Houthi attacks in the Red Sea from November to December. The escalating threat has led major shipping companies to avoid the region, with insurance costs skyrocketing since early December.
The International Chamber of Shipping reports that due to these threats, 20% of the world’s container ships are now avoiding the Red Sea, opting for the lengthier route around Africa’s southern tip.