A US Navy warplane taking off from an aircraft carrier in November 2021.

A US Navy warplane taking off from an aircraft carrier in November 2021.

US Sets Up New Naval Task Force To Patrol Waters Off Yemen

4/14/2022

The US Navy says it is setting up a new multinational task force to patrol the waters around Yemen following attacks attributed to Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, who oversees the Navy’s 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, said on Wednesday that the task force would ensure a force presence and deterrent posture in the “strategically important” Red Sea, Bab al-Mandab Strait and Gulf of Aden.

The force will be commissioned Sunday to target arms smuggling as well as trafficking of people and drugs, Cooper told reporters.

The announcement comes as Washington is seeking to reassure Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates by providing additional military support following a series of missile and drone attacks on the Persian Gulf nations in recent months. Vessels in waters around Yemen are crucial for global trade, including oil supplies, and vessels have in the past been targeted by the Houthis and other forces.

According to Cooper, the new task force will impact the Yemeni Shia rebels’ ability to obtain the weaponry needed for such attacks.

Iran has long been accused of smuggling weapons to the Houthis, a charge Tehran denies.

The new naval task force will consist of up to eight vessels and will be part of the 34-nation Combined Maritime Forces, which has three other task forces in nearby waters targeting smuggling and piracy.

Its launch comes amid a two-month truce in the nearly seven-year Yemen war that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions more.

With reporting by Reuters

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