U.S. & UK launch strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen

The strikes, conducted from both air and sea, come in response to the Houthi movement’s attacks on ships and represent a regional expansion of the conflict beyond the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

NEW DELHI | Updated: 12 January, 2024 1:01 pm IST
US and Britain strike Yemen

NEW DELHI: The United States and Britain launched airstrikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen, marking the first direct action against the Iran-backed group since its recent targeting of international shipping in the Red Sea.

The strikes, conducted from both air and sea, come in response to the Houthi movement’s attacks on ships and represent a regional expansion of the conflict beyond the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

President Joe Biden issued a statement late Thursday, “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.” He warned of further action if deemed necessary. Russia said it had requested an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Friday to discuss military strikes on Yemen by the United States and Britain.

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The airstrikes targeted Houthi military installations in various locations, including the capital Sanaa, Saada, Dhamar, and Hodeidah governorate. The Houthis, who control most of Yemen, denounced the strikes as “American-Zionist-British aggression,” and their spokesperson stated that there was no justification for the attack.

The group vowed to continue targeting ships heading towards Israel, emphasizing their support for the Palestinian Islamist group, Hamas.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense reported early indications that the Houthis’ ability to threaten merchant shipping had been dealt a blow. The ongoing conflict between the Houthis and international forces has disrupted key shipping routes between Europe and Asia, accounting for approximately 15% of global shipping traffic. A spokesman for Yemen’s Houthis said there was no justification for the U.S.-British attack and said the Iran-backed group will continue targeting ships heading towards Israel.

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The Houthi movement has defied international calls, including those from the United Nations, to halt their missile and drone attacks on Red Sea shipping routes. The U.S. military revealed that the Houthis fired an anti-ship ballistic missile into international shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden, marking the 27th attack by the group since November 19.

The recent strikes follow the Houthis’ largest attack on January 9, prompting U.S. and British naval forces to intercept and shoot down 21 Houthi drones and missiles in the Red Sea.

The international response to the conflict has been united, with Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands expressing support for the operation. Despite the existing U.S.-led coalition, known as Operation Prosperity Guardian, safeguarding commercial traffic in the Red Sea, the recent strikes occurred outside the defensive coalition’s scope.

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