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Yemen's Huthis say 17 fighters killed in US strikes

Huthi fighters act as pallbearers at the funerals in Sanaa of 17 of their comrades the Yemeni rebel group says were killed in US air strikes earlier this week (MOHAMMED HUWAIS)
Huthi fighters act as pallbearers at the funerals in Sanaa of 17 of their comrades the Yemeni rebel group says were killed in US air strikes earlier this week (MOHAMMED HUWAIS)

A total of 17 Huthi fighters were killed in US strikes, the Iran-backed Yemeni rebel group said through its official media Saturday, following public funerals in the capital Sanaa.

"The bodies of a number of martyrs of the nation and the armed and security forces who were martyred as a result of the bombing of the American-British aggression were carried through Sanaa today in a solemn funeral procession," Huthi official media said, listing their names.

The United States confirmed on Thursday that its military had conducted a number of strikes against missile launchers as Huthi fighters prepared to launch them against commercial shipping and US warships in the Red Sea.

The Iran-backed rebels, who control much of war-torn Yemen including the port of Hodeida, have been targeting shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in a campaign they say is in support of Palestinians in Gaza, which has been ravaged by the Israel-Hamas war.

US and British forces have responded with strikes against the Huthis, who have since declared both countries' interests to be legitimate targets as well.

Scores of supporters gathered at Sanaa's Al-Shaab mosque, formerly Al-Saleh mosque, on Saturday for the funerals of the Huthis killed in the strikes.

One of the mourners, Abu Moataz Ghalib, told AFP that he and others present remained resolute in their position on the war in Gaza.

"We convey our message through these martyrs that it is absolutely impossible for us to abandon our position, which is based on principles and faith, and which forced us to take action," he said.

On Wednesday the Huthis' news agency reported that the United States and Britain had hit targets in Yemen's Hodeida province.

On Tuesday the Huthi rebels said they had struck US and British ships in two attacks in the Red Sea, causing minor damage but no casualties.

The Red Sea attacks have raised insurance premiums for shipping companies, forcing many to avoid the Red Sea, a vital route that normally carries about 12 percent of global maritime trade.

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