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Houthi strikes: US and UK hit more than a dozen Yemen targets in retaliation for Red Sea attacks

American and British fighter jets hit about 18 Houthi targets across multiple locations in Yemen

Alexander Butler,Namita Singh
Sunday 25 February 2024 08:09 GMT
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US and UK strike Houthi targets in Yemen in retaliation for Red Sea attacks

The US and Britain have struck more than a dozen Houthi targets in Yemen in response to a recent surge in attacks by the Iran-backed militia group on ships in the Red Sea.

American and British fighter jets hit about 18 sites across multiple locations, targeting missiles, launchers, rockets, drones and unmanned surface and underwater vehicles, according to US officials.

The UK’s ministry of defence said the Royal Airforce had launched the wave of strikes to degrade Houthi drones and missile launchers.

It comes after a UK-owned cargo ship was set on fire off the southern coast of Yemen after being struck in a missile attack on Thursday.

It is the fourth time that the US and British militaries have conducted a combined operation against the Houthis since 12 January.

The US has also been carrying out almost daily strikes to take out Houthi targets, including incoming missiles and drones aimed at ships, as well as weapons that were prepared to launch.

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Katy Clifton25 February 2024 08:09
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Strikes 'necessary and proportionate', says Pentagon

In a statement, the Pentagon said that Saturday’s “necessary and proportionate strikes specifically targeted 18 Houthi targets across eight locations in Yemen associated with Houthi underground weapons storage facilities, missile storage facilities, one-way attack unmanned aerial systems, air defence systems, radars, and a helicopter”.

“These precision strikes are intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities that the Houthis use to threaten global trade, naval vessels, and the lives of innocent mariners in one of the world’s most critical waterways.”

The statement said that the Houthis’ “now more than 45 attacks on commercial and naval vessels since mid-November constitute a threat to the global economy, as well as regional security and stability, and demand an international response”.

Namita Singh25 February 2024 08:00
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How have Houthi strikes affected cargo movement

Earlier this week the Houthis claimed responsibility for an attack on a UK-owned cargo ship and a drone assault on an American destroyer, and they targeted Israel’s port and resort city of Eilat with ballistic missiles and drones.

The group’s strikes are disrupting the vital Suez Canal trade shortcut that accounts for about 12 per cent of global maritime traffic, and forcing firms to take a longer, more expensive route around Africa.

A Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft is prepared to conduct further strikes against Houthi targets, 24 February 2024 (Reuters)

No ships have been sunk nor crew killed during the Houthi campaign. However, there are concerns about the fate of the UK-registered Rubymar cargo vessel, which was struck on 18 February and its crew evacuated.

Namita Singh25 February 2024 07:15
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Strikes meant ‘to disrupt and degrade capabilities of Houthi militia'

US defense secretary Lloyd Austin said the strikes were meant “to further disrupt and degrade the capabilities of the Iranian-backed Houthi militia.”

“We will continue to make clear to the Houthis that they will bear the consequences if they do not stop their illegal attacks, which harm Middle Eastern economies, cause environmental damage and disrupt the delivery of humanitarian aid to Yemen and other countries,” Mr Austin added.

A Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft is prepared to conduct further strikes against Houthi targets, 24 February 2024 (Reuters)
Namita Singh25 February 2024 06:30
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How were the targets identified?

Intelligence analysis had successfully identified several very long-range drones, used by the Houthis for both reconnaissance and attack missions, at a former surface-to-air missile battery site several miles north east of Sanaa, the Ministry of Defence said of yesterday’s strikes.

“Our aircraft used Paveway IV precision guided bombs against the drones and their launchers, notwithstanding the Houthis’ use of the old missile battery revetments to try to protect the drones.”

It added: “In planning the strikes, as is normal practice with such RAF operations, the greatest possible care was taken to minimise any risk of civilian casualties.”

Namita Singh25 February 2024 05:45
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Houthi attacks on vessels threatened global economy, say Western allies

A joint statement from Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK and the US said the Houthis had staged more than 45 attacks on commercial and naval vessels since mid-November, which threatened the global economy, as well as regional security and stability.

“Our coalition of like-minded countries remains committed to protecting freedom of navigation and international commerce and holding the Houthis accountable for their illegal and unjustifiable attacks on commercial shipping and naval vessels,” the statement said.

A handout picture released by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) on 24 February 2024 shows a Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 having Paveway IV weapons loaded by Weapon Technicians at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, in preparation for a strike on military targets in Yemen, on 22 February 2024 (AFP via Getty Images)

“Our aim remains to de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea, but we will once again reiterate our warning to Houthi leadership: we will not hesitate to continue to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in the face of continued threats.”

The statement said yesterday’s strikes “targeted 18 Houthi targets across eight locations in Yemen associated with Houthi underground weapons storage facilities, missile storage facilities, one-way attack unmanned aerial systems, air defence systems, radars and a helicopter”.

Namita Singh25 February 2024 05:00
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Yemen's Houthis target fuel tanker Torm Thor in Gulf of Aden

Yemen’s Houthis targeted MV Torm Thor, a US-flagged, owned, and operated oil tanker, in the Gulf of Aden, the Iran-aligned group’s military spokesperson Yahya Sarea said on Sunday, as the militants continue to attack shipping lanes in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

The group targeted the tanker with “a number of appropriate naval missiles,” Mr Sarea added in a televised speech.

The US Central Command (Centcom) said the USS Mason, a guided missile destroyer, on Saturday shot down one anti-ship ballistic missile launched into the Gulf of Aden from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen that was likely targeting the tanker.

Neither the USS Mason nor MV Torm Thor were damaged and there were no injuries, Centcom added in a statement.

The Houthis, who control the most populous parts of Yemen, have launched exploding drones and missiles at commercial vessels since 19 November as a protest against Israel’s military operations in Gaza.

The US and Britain have launched strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen and redesignated the militia as a terrorist group.

The turmoil from Israel’s war with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has spilled over to some extent into other parts of the Middle East. Apart from the Houthi attacks on vital shipping lanes, Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group has traded fire with Israel along the Israel-Lebanon border and pro-Iran Iraqi militia have attacked bases that host US forces.

Namita Singh25 February 2024 04:15
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Strikes get support from wider Western coalition

The strikes have support from a wider coalition of countries including Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

In a statement, the US, UK and other allies said the “necessary and proportionate strikes specifically targeted 18 Houthi targets across eight locations in Yemen” that also included underground storage facilities, radar and a helicopter.

Both prime minister Rishi Sunak and president Joe Biden have repeatedly said that attacks on the key global shipping route will not be tolerated.

Namita Singh25 February 2024 03:30
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‘Our duty to protect lives at sea’

Issuing a statement on the strikes against the Houthis, defence secretary Grant Shapps said: “It is our duty to protect lives at sea and preserve freedom of navigation.

“That is why the Royal Air Force engages in a fourth round of precision strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen.”

A handout picture released by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) on 24 February 2024 shows RAF Typhoon FGR4 and RAF Voyager taking off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, to strike military targets in Yemen on 24 February 2024 (AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Shapps said it came after “severe Houthi attacks against commercial ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, including against the British-owned MV Islander and the MV Rubymar, which forced the crew to abandon ship”.

Namita Singh25 February 2024 03:15
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Houthis attack US owned oil tanker

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis targeted MV Torm Thor, a U.S.-flagged, owned, and operated oil tanker, in the Gulf of Aden, the group’s military spokesman Yahya Sarea said in a televised speech.

The Houthis say they have been attacking shipping lanes in solidarity with the Palestinians in the Gaza War. It comes after the US and UK launched airstrikes on 18 Houthi targets across Yemen.

Alexander Butler25 February 2024 03:00

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