By: Micaela Burrow, Daily Caller News Foundation
The U.S. and United Kingdom struck deeply hardened targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen on Saturday in response to the rebel group’s increasingly dangerous attacks on international shipping and naval vessels, according to statements.
The strikes targeted Houthi storage facilities, missile systems and launchers, air defense systems and radars in the thirdlarge-scale joint operation since the Houthis began attacking international shipping in late November, according to an emailed joint statement from the U.S., U.K. and supporting countries. 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.
“These strikes are intended to further disrupt and degrade the capabilities of the Iranian-backed Houthi militia to conduct their reckless and destabilizing attacks against U.S. and international vessels lawfully transiting the Red Sea,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in an emailed statement.
“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 on international shipping and naval vessels,” he added.
On Jan. 27, the Houthis struck the Marshall Islands-flagged, Bermuda-owned M/V Marlin Luanda fuel tanker with an anti-ship ballistic missile, setting it ablaze, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement. U.S. and coalition forces responded, working for hours to put out the fire after the crew of the Marlin Luanda used up the ship’s firefighting capabilities.
No one was hurt in the fire and the tanker was able to continue on its course, but the attack endangered the lives of the crew members, CENTCOM said.
Saturday’s multinational strikes, involving non-operational support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand, were in response to that attack and others, the countries said in the statement.
The strikes targeted 13 sites “associated with the Houthis’ deeply buried weapons storage facilities, missile systems and launchers, air defense systems, and radars,” the statement read.
The Houthis have attacked international shipping vessels more than 30 times, according to the statement. The nations involved pledged to hold the Houthis accountable for their threats to freedom of navigation and international commerce, but added they aimed to “de-escalate tensions.”
Also on Saturday evening Sana’a time, CENTCOM destroyed six Houthi anti-ship cruise missiles already prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea, CENTCOM said in a statement.