U.S. and British forces launched a series of proportionate strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen in response to continuing attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
“These strikes are intended to further disrupt and degrade the capabilities of the Iranian-backed Houthi militia to conduct their reckless and destabilizing attacks against U.S. and international vessels lawfully transiting the Red Sea,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement released by the Pentagon.
While U.S. and U.K. aircraft hit the targets, they were supported by an international coalition. Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and United States issued a joint statement announcing the strikes.
The international group struck 36 Houthi targets across 13 locations in Yemen in response to the Houthis’ 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 communique said.
The strikes targeted sites associated with the Houthis’ deeply buried weapons storage facilities, missile systems and launchers, air defense systems and radars, officials said.
The Houthis have launched more than 30 attacks on commercial vessels and naval vessels since mid-November. These actions constitute an international challenge, and the coalition that is protecting the sea lines of communication through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden continues to grow.
“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,” the coalition members said in a statement.
The Houthis continue to threaten vessels in the Red Sea. Officials at U.S. Central Command noted that aircraft conducted a strike in self-defense against a Houthi, anti-ship cruise missile that was prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea.
“U.S. forces identified the cruise missile in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined it presented an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region,” the Centcom release said. “This action will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy vessels and merchant vessels.”
In addition, the destroyer USS Carney engaged and shot down one unmanned aerial vehicle over the Gulf of Aden on Friday, Centcom officials said. Later that day, U.S. Central Command forces struck four Houthi UAVs that were prepared to launch.
Later, the destroyer USS Laboon and F/A-18 Super Hornets from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group engaged and shot down seven UAVs over the Red Sea.
The Houthis receive equipment, training, intelligence and money from Iran.
All these strikes seek to degrade Houthi capabilities “used to continue their reckless and unlawful attacks on U.S. and U.K. ships, as well as international commercial shipping in the Red Sea, Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden,” Centcom officials said.