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US, UK launch new wave of strikes against Yemen’s Houthis

By AFP - Feb 25,2024 - Last updated at Feb 25,2024

A handout photo released by the British ministry of defence on Saturday shows one of four RAF Typhoon aircraft at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus (AFP photo)

WASHINGTON — American and British forces carried out a fresh wave of strikes Saturday against 18 Houthi targets in Yemen, a joint statement said, following weeks of unrelenting attacks on Red Sea shipping by the Iran-backed rebels.

The strikes “specifically targeted 18 Houthi targets across eight locations in Yemen associated with Houthi underground weapons storage facilities, missile storage facilities, one-way attack unmanned aerial systems, air defence systems, radars and a helicopter”, said the joint statement.

The statement was co-signed by Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, Canada, The Netherlands and New Zealand, who gave unspecified “support” to the new round of strikes, the second this month and fourth since the rebels began their attacks on ships in the region.

“The Houthis’ now more than 45 attacks on commercial and naval vessels since mid-November constitute a threat to the global economy, as well as regional security and stability, and demand an international response,” the statement said.

Saturday’s operation comes after several merchant vessels were struck this week in the region, including the fertiliser-filled Rubymar, whose crew had to abandon ship after it was hit Sunday and began taking on water.

Apart from the joint operations with Britain, the United States has also carried out repeated unilateral strikes against Houthi positions and weaponry in Yemen, claiming self-defence, and has downed air and sea-borne drones in the Red Sea.

“The United States will not hesitate to take action, as needed, to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways,” Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said in a separate statement after the strikes.

“We will continue to make clear to the Houthis that they will bear the consequences if they do not stop their illegal attacks, which harm Middle Eastern economies, cause environmental damage, and disrupt the delivery of humanitarian aid to Yemen and other countries.”

The Houthis say they are targeting Israel-linked vessels in support of Palestinians in Gaza, which has been ravaged by the Hamas-Israel war.

Following previous US and UK strikes, the Houthis declared American and British interests to be legitimate targets as well.

Anger over Israel’s devastating campaign in Gaza — which began after an unprecedented Hamas surprise attack on October 7 — has grown across the Middle East, stoking violence involving Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

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