By: Micaela Burrow, Daily Caller News Foundation
U.S. fighter jets destroyed Houthi missile launchers prepared to fire on international shipping in the Red Sea on Friday, The Associated Press reported, citing U.S. officials.
The self-defense strikes would make waters safe for U.S. Navy vessels and international shipping, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement. F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft operating from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carried out the latest attack, destroying anti-ship missile launchers, the two U.S. officials told the AP on condition of anonymity.
“U.S. forces identified the missiles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined that they presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and the U.S. Navy ships in the region. U.S. forces subsequently struck and destroyed the missiles in self-defense. This action will make international waters safe and secure for U.S. navy vessels and merchant vessels,” CENTCOM said in the statement.
Friday’s strikes are the fifth unilateral strikes since the U.S. and United Kingdom conducted large-scale strikes on Houthi targets associated with the newly-designated terrorist groups’ months-long harassment campaign against international shipping.
President Joe Biden said on Thursday the U.S.-led retaliatory responses had failed to deter the Houthis from continuing to launch missiles and drones at international shipping.
“Are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they going to continue? Yes,” Biden said Thursday after the fifth round of self-defense strikes. They are the latest in a pattern as CENTCOM has observed Houthi militants preparing missiles for an imminent attack, intercepting them before they launch.
The U.S. and United Kingdom on Jan. 11 bombarded more than 60 targets, including warehouses for weapons and equipment, radars and missile launchers, with more than 150 munitions fired from ships, submarines and aircraft in the region. Strikes were aimed at defending freedom of navigation through one of the world’s most important transit points.
The Pentagon has declined to provide an assessment of the damage, citing operational security and intelligence concerns, but the Pentagon’s top operations officer, Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims, said immediately after the strikes he was fairly confident the strikes hamstrung the Houthis’ ability to carry out complex attacks.
However, administration and military officials said they did not expect the Houthis to stop attacks.
On Wednesday, the administration officially moved to list the Houthis as a specially designated global terrorist group, a designation that allows the administration to impede funding to the group.
“These strikes will continue for as long as they need to continue,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby saidThursday. “I’m not going to telegraph punches one way or another.”
The Houthis have also broadened their attacks to include attempted missile and drone strikes on U.S.-flagged or U.S.-owned bulk carriers and tankers, according to CENTCOM.