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US and Britain strike Houthi rebel targets in Yemen after surge in shipping attacks

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak issues a statement after British and US forces struck Houthi targets in Yemen, at 10 Downing Street, London, Friday May 31, 2024. The U.S. and Britain struck 13 Houthi targets in several locations in Yemen on Thursday in response to a recent surge in attacks by the Iran-backed militia group on ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden over the Israel-Hamas war. (Yui Mok/Pool Photo via AP)
Original Publication Date May 30, 2024 - 2:41 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. and Britain struck 13 Houthi targets in several locations in Yemen on Thursday in response to a recent surge in attacks by the Iran-backed militia group on ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden over the Israel-Hamas war, three U.S. officials said. The Houthi rebels said the airstrikes killed at least 16 people and wounded 35 others.

According to the officials, American and British fighter jets and U.S. ships hit a wide range of underground facilities, missile launchers, command and control sites, a Houthi vessel and other facilities. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to provide early details of an ongoing military operation.

Also struck by the U.S. were eight uncrewed aerial vehicles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen that were determined to be presenting a threat to American and coalition forces.

The Houthis’ Al Masirah satellite news station highlighted one of the strikes, which hit a radio building in the Red City port city of Hodeida. It aired images of one bloodied man being carried down stairs and others receiving treatment at a hospital.

Other strikes hit outside of the rebel-held capital, Sanaa, near its airport and communication equipment in Taiz, the broadcaster said. Little other information was released — likely signaling that Houthi military sites had been struck.

“We confirm this brutal aggression against Yemen as punishment for its position in support of Gaza, in support of Israel to continue its crimes of genocide against the wounded, besieged and steadfast Gaza Strip,” Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam wrote on the social platform X.

The strikes came a day after a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone went down in Yemen, and the Houthis released footage they said showed the aircraft being targeted with a surface-to-air missile in a desert region of Yemen’s central Marib province. It was the third such downing in May alone.

Also earlier this week, missile attacks twice damaged a Marshall Islands-flagged, Greek-owned ship in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, with a private security firm saying radio traffic suggested the vessel took on water after being struck. The Houthis have claimed responsibility for the attack.

This is the fifth time that the U.S. and British militaries have conducted a combined operation against the Houthis since Jan. 12. But the U.S. also has been carrying out almost daily strikes to take out Houthi targets, including incoming missiles and drones aimed at ships, as well as weapons that were prepared to launch.

The U.S. F/A-18 fighter jets launched from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier in the Red Sea, officials said. Other U.S. warships in the region also participated.

The Houthis in recent months have stepped up attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, demanding that Israel end the war in Gaza, which has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians. The war began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking some 250 hostage.

The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration.

Shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden has declined because of the threat.

U.S. warships, meanwhile, took out a number of missile launchers and drones targeting vessels in the region over the past week.

President Joe Biden and other senior leaders have repeatedly warned that the U.S. won’t tolerate the Houthi attacks against commercial shipping. But the counterattacks haven’t appeared to diminish the Houthis’ campaign against shipping in the region.

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Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed.

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
The Associated Press

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