US, UK Strike Iran-Backed Houthi Targets In Yemen After Red Sea Attacks | World News


The US and UK militaries have carried out joint strikes on several sites used by the Houthi rebels in Yemen, following their repeated attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, officials from both countries said. The strikes involved fighter jets and Tomahawk missiles, and targeted more than a dozen Houthi facilities, including radar systems, drone and missile launch and storage sites, a US official told CNN.

The official said the strikes were aimed at degrading the Houthis’ ability to threaten international shipping in the Red Sea, a vital waterway for global trade and security. The strikes were a significant escalation of the US and UK involvement in the Yemen conflict, and came after the Biden administration and its allies warned the Iran-backed militants to stop their attacks or face consequences.

The US and UK had previously avoided direct strikes on Yemen, fearing they could spark a wider regional conflict in an already volatile area. But they decided to act after the Houthis continued to launch drones and missiles at ships in the Red Sea, forcing some of the world’s largest shipping companies to divert their routes around Africa, adding thousands of miles and costs to their operations.

The strikes also came as US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin was recovering from a surgery for prostate cancer in a hospital.

The US official said this was the first known strike against the Houthis in Yemen, although the US had previously struck Iranian proxies in Iraq and Syria since the war in Gaza erupted. The official said the strikes were a sign of the US’s determination to prevent the war in Gaza from spilling over into the wider region.

The US official said senior administration officials had briefed Congressional leaders on the US plans earlier on Thursday. The UK official confirmed the UK’s participation in the strikes, and said they were coordinated with the US and other allies.

The official said the UK was concerned about the Houthi attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea, and supported the US’s efforts to deter them. The official said the UK was also committed to finding a political solution to the Yemen crisis, and urged all parties to engage in the UN-led peace process.

The Houthi rebels, who control most of northern Yemen, have been fighting a civil war against a Saudi-led coalition that backs the internationally recognised government of Yemen since 2015. The rebels have said they are launching attacks on shipping in the Red Sea in solidarity with Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that fought a 11-day war with Israel in May.

The Houthi leader, Abdul Malek Al-Houthi, warned on Thursday that any US attack on Yemen would not go unpunished, and hinted that the rebels had more capabilities than attacking US ships in the sea, CNN reported.

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who was travelling in the region, said on Thursday that the Houthi attacks had to stop, or there would be consequences. He also said he did not think the war in Gaza was escalating into a regional conflict, but cautioned that there were “a lot of danger points”.

Blinken visited Bahrain, where the US Naval Forces Central Command and the Navy’s Fifth Fleet are based, and met with the Bahraini king and other officials.

A senior State Department official said Blinken’s message to the regional leaders was that the US’s military action against the Houthis was defensive, not escalatory, and that the US was still seeking a diplomatic solution to the Yemen conflict.

The official said Blinken also discussed the US’s efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which the Houthis’ main backer, and the need for Iran to play a constructive role in the region.

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