By: Micaela Burrow, Daily Caller News Foundation
The U.S. launched additional strikes on 14 missile targets in Yemen where the Houthi rebels were preparing to launch further attacks on international shipping on Wednesday, the Pentagon said.
The U.S. military launched munitions from ships and submarines at the Houthi-linked targets for the fourth time since Thursday after the initial U.S.-led multi-nation counterattacks triggered retaliation from the Houthi rebels, CBS News and The Associated Press initially reported, citing U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement. The strikes were conducted alongside a multinational coalition to protect freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, Operation Prosperity Guardian, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement.
“These missiles on launch rails presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region and could have been fired at any time, prompting U.S. forces to exercise their inherent right and obligation to defend themselves. These strikes, along with other actions we have taken, will degrade the Houthi’s capabilities to continue their reckless attacks on international and commercial shipping in the Red Sea, the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden,” CENTCOM said in the statement.
Earlier Wednesday, an explosive-laden drone struck and sparked a fire aboard the Marshall Islands-flagged Genco Picardy, CENTCOM said, marking the fourth reported attack since the U.S.-led strikes on targets in Yemen.
The U.S. would not hesitate to take military action against the Houthis to prevent future attacks, Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a briefing Wednesday.
“They are exploiting this situation to conduct attacks against the ships and vessels from more than 50 countries … around the world. And so we’re going to continue to work with our partners in the region to prevent those attacks or deter those attacks in the future,” Ryder said.
A multi-nation operation led by the U.S. launched expansive strikes with aircraft, warships and submarines on munitions depots and launch sites for weapons the Houthis have used to target international shipping in the Red Sea on Jan. 12. More than 150 different types of munitions bombarded more than 60 targets at 28 locations, Pentagon officials have said.
The Pentagon has said that the Thursday evening strikes degraded the Houthis’ ability to carry out further attacks. But, the strikes only took out between 20% and 30% of the Houthis’ total ability to continue launching missiles and drones at international shipping and U.S. Navy assets, The New York Times reported.
“Clearly they maintain some capability. And we anticipated that after any action, there would likely be some retaliatory strikes. And that’s what you’re seeing now,” Ryder explained on Wednesday.
The U.S. conducted struck a radar site on Jan. 13, but said the action was separate from operations under Operation Prosperity Guardian. Then, U.S. forces destroyed four Houthi missiles in a preemptive strike on Jan. 16.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Biden administration re-listed the Houthis as a specially designated global terrorist group.