U.S. Conducts Fourth Round of Airstrikes on Houthi Targets in Yemen
Pentagon officials confirmed on Wednesday night that the United States has executed a fourth series of strikes on Houthi positions in Yemen, targeting the Iranian-backed rebels. The operation, undertaken by American forces, focused on neutralizing 14 Houthi missiles, suspected to be intended for potential attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.
The U.S. Central Command (Centcom), responsible for operations in the Middle East, reported that the strikes were carried out using Tomahawk missiles launched from U.S. Navy vessels. The military action coincided with the recent designation of the Houthi rebels as “global terrorists” by the United States.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that this decision to label the Houthis as terrorists, reversing an earlier Biden administration move, was a response to the group’s persistent assaults on commercial shipping in the region. The Houthis initiated attacks on merchant vessels in November, citing Israel’s military operations in Gaza as the catalyst. Since then, they have targeted numerous commercial tankers passing through the Red Sea, a vital global shipping route.
In response to the ongoing Houthi attacks, the U.S. and UK initiated a series of airstrikes on January 11, with support from Australia, Bahrain, the Netherlands, and Canada. The airstrikes followed the Houthis’ disregard for an ultimatum to cease their regional attacks.
The latest strikes on Houthi targets occurred after additional assaults on commercial shipping, including an attack on a U.S.-owned and operated vessel in the Gulf of Aden. The Houthi rebels utilized a one-way drone to target the M/V Genco Picardy, causing damage to the ship but sparing the crew.
Officials emphasized that Wednesday’s preemptive strikes aimed to destroy imminent threats posed by Houthi weapons. Centcom clarified in a statement that the missiles targeted presented an imminent danger to both merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region.
Centcom’s commander, Gen Michael Kurilla, asserted that the U.S. would persist in taking action against the Houthis as long as they continue to jeopardize international mariners and disrupt commercial shipping lanes in the Southern Red Sea and adjacent waterways.
While Yemen has been embroiled in a devastating civil war since 2015, with the Houthis seizing control and a Saudi-led coalition intervening, the conflict has resulted in over 160,000 deaths and triggered a severe humanitarian crisis affecting 21 million people, or two-thirds of the population, in need of aid. The UK’s Ministry of Defence confirmed non-participation in the latest round of strikes.