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11 killed after US, British forces strike Houthi targets in western Yemen

Houthi attacks began in November in solidarity with Palestinians and escalated despite warnings and attacks by US, British and other forces. Last week, a Houthi missile killed three of a ship's crew members, marking the first fatal strike since Israel's war on Hamas in Gaza.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Aden (Yemen) Published on: March 12, 2024 7:31 IST
Houthi attacks, US, UK, Yemen
Image Source : AP Houthi supporters attend a rally against the US airstrikes on Yemen and Israel's offensive in Gaza.

Aden: At least 11 people were killed and 14 others injured after a US-British coalition launched airstrikes at Houthi rebels in western Yemen on Monday, striking port cities and small towns, while defending commercial shipping, a spokesperson for Yemen's internationally recognized government told Reuters. There were at least 17 strikes in Yemen, including in the port city of Hodeidah and at Ras Issa Port, as per local reports.

The strikes come just days after the first civilian fatalities and vessel loss since the Iran-aligned Houthis began attacking commercial shipping in November in solidarity with the Palestinians under attack by Israel. The strikes also coincide with the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a period of fasting for Muslims.

Despite reprisals from the US-British coalition and other navies, the Houthis have escalated their campaign of attacks on commercial vessels in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. The Houthis killed three crew of the Barbados-flagged, Greek-operated True Confidence on Wednesday in an attack off the port of Aden.

Houthi attacks escalate

Three seafarers were killed in a Houthi missile attack on a Red Sea merchant ship on Wednesday, British and US officials said, the first fatalities reported since the Iran-aligned Yemeni group began strikes against shipping in one of the world's busiest sea lanes. The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, which set the Greek-owned, Barbados-flagged ship True Confidence ablaze around 50 nautical miles off the coast of Yemen's port of Aden.

The Houthis have been attacking ships in the Red Sea since November in what they claim is a campaign in solidarity with Palestinians during the war in Gaza. Britain and the United States have been launching retaliatory strikes against the Houthis, and the confirmation of fatalities could lead to pressure for stronger military action.

Four days ago, the Rubymar, a UK-owned bulk carrier, became the first ship to sink as a result of a Houthi attack, after floating for two weeks with severe damage from a missile strike. All crew were safely evacuated from that vessel. The United States and Britain have launched retaliatory strikes against the Houthis intended to protect shipping, and severe injuries or fatalities among merchant crew could lead to calls for stronger action.

Costs of Houthi attacks and wider war

The Houthi attacks have disrupted global shipping, forcing firms to re-route to longer and more expensive journeys around southern Africa's Cape of Good Hope to avoid the dangerous route through the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea to the Suez Canal. The cost of insuring a seven-day voyage through the Red Sea has risen by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

While the militia has said it would attack vessels with links to the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel, shipping industry sources say all ships could be at risk. The True Confidence is owned by the Liberian-registered company True Confidence Shipping and operated by the Greece-based Third January Maritime, both firms said in their joint statement. They said the ship had no link to the United States.

An attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels saw an explosion take place near a Liberian-flagged container ship in the Red Sea on Monday, though the blast caused no damage, authorities said. Houthi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree claimed the attack early Tuesday in a prerecorded statement, claiming the Pinocchio was an American ship without offering evidence to support the assertion. 

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Indian Navy conducts daring rescue operation of 21 crew after Houthi targets vessel in Gulf of Aden I WATCH

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