The U.S. and U.K. launched strikes against eight Houthi targets Monday, the two countries said, in a continuing bid to stop the Yemeni rebel group’s attacks on ships transiting the Red Sea.
The strikes marked the second major assault by a joint force of the two countries on the group which is funded and supported by Iran.
Targets struck early Tuesday local time included rocket launchers, missile depots, an underground weapons storage facility, warehouses, drones used by the Houthis and radar, missile and air surveillance sites, some of them near the capital San’a, U.S., British and Houthi officials said.
“At this point, the strikes were successful and achieved the desired effect and removed these capabilities from the Houthis,” said a Pentagon official.
The U.S. and U.K. militaries conducted the attacks with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands, the Pentagon said. President Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke Monday afternoon, the White House said.
“We again acted as part of a coalition of like-minded countries committed to upholding the rules-based order, protecting freedom of navigation and international commerce, and holding the Houthis accountable for their illegal and unjustifiable attacks on mariners and commercial shipping,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The Houthis were defiant after the strike. Officials with the group said they had received no reports of loss and that some of the sites had already been struck in previous attacks.
“We say to the American and British forces, rest assured that every operation and aggression against our country will not go unanswered,” said Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a leader in the group. “Anticipate the response every minute, if not every second. Be prepared for an imminent retaliation, and undoubtedly, the consequences and burden will be upon you, by the will of Allah.”
In the hours leading up to the coalition strikes, British security consulting firm Ambrey said a U.S.-flagged and -owned heavy load carrier was allegedly targeted with a Houthi missile while sailing eastbound in the Gulf of Aden. The Yemeni group said a vessel called the U.S.-flagged Ocean Jazz had been successfully struck, a claim the U.S. Navy denied. The vessel’s manager, Seabulk Fleet Management, couldn’t be reached for comment. Roughly 85 ships were sailing through the waterway to the Suez earlier Monday.
In what they said was a response to Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, the Houthis began attacking commercial ships in the end of November, rattling global markets and upending international shipping routes.
Initially directed against Israeli-linked vessels, the attacks have become increasingly indiscriminate. The rebels have attacked vessels from boxships to tankers moving sanctioned Russian oil as the global shipping nexus complicates their ability to identify specific targets.
Last week, vessel traffic through the Suez Canal was down 34% compared with the end of November, according to data by Lloyd’s List Intelligence.
After assembling a multilateral defensive coalition to protect seaborne traffic in December, the U.S., Britain and key allies on Jan. 3 issued what amounted to an ultimatum to the group to cease its attacks.