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US, UK and allies strike Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen

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Washington:  The US and the UK have conducted joint strikes on 36 Houthi targets across 13 locations in Yemen, in another wave of assaults intended to degrade the capabilities of the Iran-backed militia that has targeted international shipping vessels in the Red Sea in response to the Israel-Hamas war.

The Pentagon said the UK, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand were involved in Saturday’s strikes against Houthi targets.

The latest strikes, executed with fighter jets and ships, come after the US launched strikes on 85 targets in Syria and Iraq on Friday in response to a deadly drone attack on a US military base in Jordan last Sunday that killed three of its service members.

“Militaries from the United States and the United Kingdom conducted additional strikes against the Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen,” Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a 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, Austin said.

“We will not hesitate to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways,” Austin said.

These strikes, he said, are intended to disrupt further and degrade the capabilities of the Iranian-backed Houthi militia to conduct their reckless and destabilising attacks against US and international vessels lawfully transiting the Red Sea.

Austin said that the coalition forces targeted 13 locations associated with the Houthis’ deeply buried weapons storage facilities, missile systems and launchers, air defence systems, and radars, Austin said.

A joint statement issued by the US, the UK and its other coalition partners said that the militaries of the United States and United Kingdom, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and New Zealand conducted an additional round of proportionate and necessary strikes against 36 Houthi targets across 13 locations in Yemen.

This was in response to the Houthis’ continued attacks against international and commercial shipping as well as naval vessels transiting the Red Sea.

These precision strikes are intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities that the Houthis use to threaten global trade and the lives of innocent mariners.

The strikes are in response to a series of illegal, dangerous, and destabilising Houthi actions since previous coalition strikes on January 11 and 22, 2024, including the January 27 attack which struck and set ablaze the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker M/V Marlin Luanda, the statement added.

“Today’s strike specifically targeted sites associated with the Houthis’ deeply buried weapons storage facilities, missile systems and launchers, air defence systems, and radars,” it said.

The Houthis’ now more than 30 attacks on commercial vessels and naval vessels since mid-November constitute an international challenge.

“Recognising the broad consensus of the international community, our coalition of like-minded countries committed to upholding the rules-based order has continued to grow,” the statement said.

“We remain committed to protecting freedom of navigation and international commerce and holding the Houthis accountable for their illegal and unjustifiable attacks on commercial shipping and naval vessels,” it said.

“Our aim remains to de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea but let us reiterate our warning to Houthi leadership: we will not hesitate to continue to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways in the face of continued threats,” said the statement issued by these countries.

Two US destroyers fired Tomahawk missiles as part of the strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, a US official told CNN.

The USS Gravely and USS Carney, both of which are Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, fired the land-attack cruise missiles during the operation.

F/A-18 fighter jets from the USS Dwight D Eisenhower aircraft carrier also took part in the strikes, officials said.

Earlier Saturday, the US struck six Houthi anti-ship cruise missiles before they were launched toward the Red Sea, US Central Command said.

US Central Command forces also conducted a strike in self-defence against a Houthi anti-ship cruise missile prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea.

The strikes on consecutive days come as the Biden administration has adopted a “multi-tiered” response to a drone attack that killed three US service members and wounded scores more last weekend.

Saturday’s strikes are the third time in recent weeks that the US and UK attacked Houthi targets as part of a joint operation. On January 11, the two militaries struck approximately 30 Houthi sites. Less than two weeks later, the US and UK struck another eight sites.

The previous strikes targeted Houthi weapons storage facilities and radar sites in an attempt to disrupt the ability of the Iran-backed rebel group to attack international shipping lanes in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, some of the world’s most critical waterways.

But the Houthis have remained defiant, vowing after the last round of US-led strikes they are “more determined to confront” what they called the US and the UK “aggressors.”

Iran-backed militias have mounted more than 165 drone, missile and rocket attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria since the Israel-Hamas war began in October.

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