Missiles 'fired at US warships' near Yemen amid attacks on Houthi rebels

Navy investigating whether ships targeted again

Harriet Agerholm
Sunday 16 October 2016 10:56 BST
Houthi rebels deny conducting attacks on the USS Mason
Houthi rebels deny conducting attacks on the USS Mason (Reuters)

A new round of missiles may have been fired at an American Warship from a Houthi-controlled region in Yemen, according to US officials.

Head navy officer Admiral John Richardson said the destroyer USS Mason appeared "to have come under attack" but was not hit.

Yet following the initial reports, US officials backtracked on whether there was such an attack. They said they were investigating the possibility and declined to give further details.

It comes amid rising tensions between the US and the Iran-allied group.

If confirmed, it will be the third attack in around a week targeting the destroyer USS Mason and other US ships in the region.

Officials initially said surface-to-surface missiles had been fired at the USS Mason, USS Nitze and USS Ponce from around 7.30pm GMT. The ships were in international waters off the coast of Yemen.

Yet they later said the ships detected what may have been missiles.

A defence official told AFP: "A US Strike Group transiting international waters in the Red Sea detected possible inbound missile threats and deployed appropriate defensive measures.

"Post event assessment is ongoing. All US warships and vessels in the area are safe."

Two days earlier, a US warship fired Tomahawk missiles into Yemen to destroy three radar sites that Pentagon leaders believed took part in the earlier attacks.

Scores dead in blasts at funeral in Yemeni capital

According to one official, additional radars could have been used to bring about the attack on Saturday night.

The Houthi rebels have denied conducting the missile launches.

An estimated 6,800 people have been killed, 35,000 wounded and at least three million displaced since a Saudi-led coalition launched its military operation in Yemen in 2015.

On Saturday, Suadi-coalition investigators said its attack on a funeral in the capital, Sanaa, in which at least 140 people were killed, was based on “bad information”.

Obama administration officials have previously stressed that Washington wanted to avoid getting embroiled in another war.

Spokespeople from the from the White House, Pentagon and State Department have all argued that countermeasures in response to previous missile launches against their warships were only a self-defence measure and not an escalation of military action.

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