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Houthis Ballistic Missile Attack Kills Two in Gulf of Aden

The fire aboard the bulk carrier True Confidence after a missile attack by Yemen's Houthi rebels in the Gulf of Aden. AP
The fire aboard the bulk carrier True Confidence after a missile attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Gulf of Aden. AP

Houthi rebels in Yemen were responsible for a ballistic missile assault on a commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden that resulted in at least two deaths and six injuries, marking the first incident involving casualties since the attacks against commercial vessels began, according to reports.

The remaining crew evacuated the vessel, the True Confidence, a bulk carrier owned by Liberia and flying the flag of Barbados. The Houthi terror group has now justified their attacks as retaliation for Israel's military actions against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

"This ought to be a real wake-up call," said James Carafano, a leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges and senior counselor to the President and E.W. Richardson fellow at The Heritage Foundation. "No one should be allowed to take freedom of the seas hostage," he added.

Speaking to Reuters, a Houthi spokesperson said that the targeting operation "came after the ship's crew rejected warning messages from the Yemeni naval forces." According to a U.S. defense official, the attack occurred at approximately 11:30 am in Sanaa, Yemen, local time.

A representative from the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations Center of the British military informed The Associated Press that the True Confidence vessel was struck and suffered damage. The full extent of the damage is unclear, but the crew abandoned the ship and launched lifeboats. A Department of Defense (DoD) official informed CBS News that six additional individuals sustained injuries during the attack.

Matthew Miller, the spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, informed reporters that the fatalities were "sadly inevitable."

"The Houthis have continued to launch these reckless attacks with no regard for the well-being of innocent civilians who are transiting through the Red Sea, and now they have unfortunately and tragically killed innocent civilians," Miller told reporters during a Wednesday briefing.

The spokesperson from the State Department affirmed that the U.S. would persist in holding the Houthis responsible for their attacks. According to Miller, these attacks have not only disrupted international trade and navigation in international waters but have also tragically resulted in the deaths of numerous seafarers.

"This new and deadly Houthi attack tells us two things," said Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, D.C. "First, the defensive measures taken thus far are inadequate, and additional attacks on Houthi military capabilities are necessary. Second, it is Iran who gives the Houthis these deadly capabilities, but Iran is never punished," Abrams told The Foreign Desk.

Earlier, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that the USS Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer participating in the U.S.-led efforts against Iran-supported Yemeni rebels, was targeted by the Houthis on Tuesday.

Since November, the Houthis have carried out over 45 missile and drone assaults targeting commercial vessels as well as U.S. and coalition naval ships in the Red Sea. This information comes from U.S. and Western officials. These attacks have been stopped by American naval forces and coalition destroyers in the Red Sea.

"This is also a reminder that freedom of the seas is not assured by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); it is assured by navies," Carafano explained. "The free world needs to invest in maritime power," he told The Foreign Desk.

The U.S. and the U.K. have conducted four series of attacks on Houthi targets within Yemen since January. These strikes have targeted various locations, including weapons and missile storage facilities, unmanned aerial systems for one-way attacks, air defense systems, radars, and helicopters utilized by the rebel group.

According to Abrams, every nation that benefits from maritime commerce should "join in punishing Iran, through economic sanctions to begin with, until it withdraws that support for the Houthis and successfully pressures them to stop attacking vital sea lanes," he added.

Related Story: Iran Supplying Houthis with Increasingly Advanced Weaponry: Report

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