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Pentagon Says Goal ‘is Not to Completely Eliminate’ Houthi Capabilities

Pentagon spokesperson Gen. Pat Ryder. AP
Pentagon spokesperson Gen. Pat Ryder. AP

By: Micaela Burrow, Daily Caller News Foundation

The U.S. doesn’t intend to “completely eliminate” the Iran-backed Houthi rebel capabilities in Yemen, Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a press briefing Monday after U.S. forces conducted a wave of airstrikes against Houthi military equipment over the weekend.

Hours after the U.S. and United Kingdom carried out the third wave of large-scale strikes against some deeply hidden targets in Yemen on Saturday, the Houthis had prepared missiles to launch that U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forces subsequently destroyed. Ryder said Monday the Houthis would have to decide the quantity of missiles, launchers, drones and associated materiel they are willing to lose in order to continue terrorizing the Red Sea.

“Our goal is not to completely eliminate the capabilities of Houthi forces. Our goal is to disrupt and degrade their ability to conduct these attacks,” Ryder said.

Since the last joint strikes on Jan. 11 and Jan. 22, the Houthis have continued to conduct dangerous missile and drone attacks against ships in the Red Sea, including setting a fuel tanker on fire for hours in the most severe incident to date. The Houthis have attacked international shipping vessels more than 30 times.

“This collective action sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will continue to bear further consequences if they do not end their illegal attacks,” Ryder said.

Recent attacks have been successful at that aim, he added. But, the Houthis have said they will continue to disrupt international shipping until Israel brings its war against the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza to an end.

“The question is, how much of that capability they want to sacrifice to a doomed cause?” Ryder said. The Houthis goal to disrupt shipping “ultimately will fail,” he said. Ryder’s statement suggest the U.S. plans to outlast the Houthis.

Despite strikes against the Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, and multiple rounds of joint U.S.-United Kingdom strikes in Yemen, the groups continue to launch attacks. U.S. counterattacks are aimed at protecting U.S. military forces and international shipping through the Red Sea and telegraph additional consequences should the militant groups continue to act with hostility.

In Iraq and Syria, Ryder likewise would not shed light on Pentagon long-term plans but described a similar situation to that in Yemen.

“If our forces are attacked — and in this case when our forces were killed — we will take appropriate and necessary action,” Ryder said, referring to Iraq and Syria where the U.S. maintains troops to help local forces fight the Islamic State.

Ryder said the U.S. is not planning to mount a full-scale war against the Iranian proxies. “To be clear, our goal is not to okay game on let’s just do this and go, you know, full scale war against Iranian proxy groups in Iraq and Syria. That’s not what we’re there for,” he said.

Ryder said CENTCOM was still assessing battle damage and casualties resulting from the weekend strikes in both areas of hostility. The strikes against Iran-backed groups and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Iraq and Syria likely killed some militants, he added.

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