US, Britain launch strikes against Houthis in Yemen over Red Sea attacks


WASHINGTON: The United States and Britain on Thursday (Jan 11) launched strikes against targets linked to the Houthi movement in Yemen, the first strikes against the Iran-backed group since it started targeting international shipping in the Red Sea late last year.

The strikes involved fighter jets and Tomahawk missiles, several US media said. US officials did not immediately confirm the reports when contacted by AFP.

US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the strikes were conducted with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands.

The strikes were in “direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks against international maritime vessels in the Red Sea”, he said in a statement released by the White House.

“These attacks have endangered US personnel, civilian mariners, and our partners, jeopardised trade, and threatened freedom of navigation,” he said.

Biden said he would “not hesitate” to direct further measures to protect people and the free flow of commerce.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the British Royal Air Force, alongside the US, carried out targeted strikes against the Houthis.

He added that the Royal Navy will continue to patrol the Red Sea as part of a multinational operation to deter further Houthi aggression.

The UK will always stand up for the freedom of navigation and free flow of trade, he added.

A Houthi official confirmed “raids” across the country, including in the capital Sanaa along with the cities of Saada and Dhamar, as well as in the Hodeidah governorate, calling them “American-Zionist-British aggression”.

The ongoing strikes are one of the most dramatic demonstrations to date of the widening of the Israel-Hamas war in the Middle East since its eruption in October.

One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said more than a dozen locations were targeted and the strikes were intended to be more than just symbolic.

Witnesses told Reuters that the raids on Thursday targeted a military base adjacent to Sanaa airport, a military site near Taiz airport, a Houthi naval base in Hodeidah and military sites in Hajjah governorate.

The Pentagon declined to comment.

MONITORING WITH “GREAT CONCERN”: SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia called for restraint and to “avoid escalation” in light of the US and UK air strikes in Yemen, the kingdom’s foreign ministry said on Friday.

Saudi Arabia, which has in recent months engaged in peace talks with Yemen’s Houthis, was closely monitoring the situation with “great concern”, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The kingdom emphasises the importance of maintaining the security and stability of the Red Sea region, as the freedom of navigation in it is an international demand,” the ministry added.



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