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US military strikes five vessels near Yemen port

Houthi groups patrol the sea off the coast of Hodeidah where US military struck five vessels (File picture) (AFP via Getty Images)
Houthi groups patrol the sea off the coast of Hodeidah where US military struck five vessels (File picture) (AFP via Getty Images)

The US military carried out strikes on five targets north of Yemen’s port of Hodeidah on Sunday that it said were threatening ships in the area.

In a statement, US Central Command said that American forces had “successfully conducted self-defense strikes” against “two unmanned surface vessels (USV) and three mobile anti-ship cruise missiles” that were “prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea”.

“CENTCOM identified these USVs and missiles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined they presented an imminent threat to US Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region,” the statement added.

Since November, the Houthi rebel group have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea over Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

However, they have frequently targeted vessels with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, imperilling shipping in a key route for trade among Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The attacks have raised fears of supply bottlenecks and alarmed major powers that the Gaza war may become a regional conflict.

In recent weeks, the United States and the United Kingdom, backed by other allies, have launched airstrikes targeting Houthi missile arsenals and launch sites for its attacks.

US President Joe Biden said in January that strikes on Houthi targets would continue even as he acknowledged they may not be halting their attacks.

Last Thursday, a German Navy frigate set sail toward the Red Sea as part of a European Union mission to help defend cargo ships from Houthi attacks.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has said the EU mission — dubbed Aspides, from the Greek for “shield” — won’t take part in any military strikes and will only operate at sea.