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Yemen's Houthis target two US warships as Red Sea crisis continues amid Gaza war

A US destroyer shot down drones and a missile launched by the Houthi rebels towards it on Tuesday, as the group vowed to not stop unless the Israel-Hamas war ends. Houthis' Red Sea attacks have disrupted global shipping, forcing firms to re-route to longer and more expensive journeys.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Cairo Published on: March 06, 2024 10:12 IST
Houthi attacks, US warships, Red Sea
Image Source : AP (FILE) Houthi attacks struck and sank a cargo ship carrying fertilizer, the Rubymar, in February.

Cairo: Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis have refused to budge from disrupting global shipping, as they carried out a military operation in which they targeted two US warship destroyers in the Red Sea, according to the group's spokesperson Yahya Saree on Tuesday. Saree said the ships were targeted with a number of naval missiles and drones.

A US destroyer shot down drones and a missile launched by the Houthi rebels towards it, as the Indian navy released images of it fighting a fire aboard a container ship earlier targeted by the Houthis. The Houthi attack involved bomb-carrying drones and one anti-ship ballistic missile, the US military's Central Command said.

The US later launched an airstrike destroying three anti-ship missiles and three bomb-carrying drone boats, the military said. "There are no injuries or damage to the ship... The missiles and USVs were located in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. CENTCOM forces identified the missiles, UAVs, and USVs and determined that they presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and to the US Navy ships in the region," said the Command.

Meanwhile, Saree said the Houthis “will not stop until the aggression is stopped and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted". The Houthis have not offered any assessment of the damage they've suffered in the American-led strikes that began in January, though it has said at least 22 of its fighters have been killed.

Houthis' Red Sea attacks have disrupted global shipping, forcing firms to re-route to longer and more expensive journeys around southern Africa, and stoked fears that the Israel-Hamas war could spread to destabilise the wider Middle East. Houthi militants have repeatedly launched drones and missiles against international commercial shipping since mid-November, saying they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians against Israel's military actions in Gaza.

Indian Navy to the rescue

Since November, the rebels have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea and surrounding waters over the Israel-Hamas war. Those vessels have included at least one with cargo bound for Iran, the Houthis' main benefactor, and an aid ship later bound for Houthi-controlled territory.

Despite more than a month and a half of US-led airstrikes, Houthi rebels have remained capable of launching significant attacks. They include the attack last month on a cargo ship carrying fertilizer, the Rubymar, which sank on Saturday after drifting for several days, and the downing of an American drone worth tens of millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, the Indian Navy swiftly responded to a drone strike on a Liberian-flagged commercial vessel in the Gulf of Aden on Monday. The incident marked another in a series of attacks on merchant vessels, prompting the Indian Navy to extend assistance to numerous ships in the western Indian Ocean in recent weeks.

According to reports, the vessel, transiting about 90 nautical miles southeast of Aden, reported a fire resulting from a drone or missile attack. The Indian Navy's INS Kolkata, engaged in maritime security operations in the region, promptly arrived at the scene of the incident at 2230 hours. "INS Kolkata, mission deployed in the region for maritime security operations, promptly responded and arrived at the scene of the incident by 10.30 pm," the Navy statement read.

The vessel had a crew of 23 personnel, including 13 Indians. Upon arrival, a specialised firefighting team comprising 12 personnel from INS Kolkata boarded the vessel to aid firefighting efforts. Additionally, a specialist Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team also embarked on the vessel to assist in residual risk assessment.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Indian Navy conducts airborne operations over Arabian Sea amid increased Houthi attacks

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