A Houthi policeman stands on a banner with pictures of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and US President Joe Biden during a parade by Houthi recruits in Sanaa, Yemen, February 8, 2024.

US Targets Houthi Vessels, Missiles In Operation Dubbed 'Self-Defense'

Sunday, 02/11/2024

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) has announced the successful execution of self-defense strikes against Iran-backed Houthi vessels and missiles.

The announcement claimed that on Saturday, US forces "successfully conducted self-defense strikes against two unmanned surface vessels (USV) and three mobile anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM) north of Al Hudaydah, Yemen, that were prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea".

CENTCOM clarified that the vessels and missiles were identified in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and posed an imminent threat to US Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region. The operation was conducted with the aim of safeguarding freedom of navigation and ensuring the safety and security of international waters for both US Navy and merchant vessels.

Yemen’s Houthi militants have caused huge trade by targeting shipping lanes in key maritime areas such as the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in support of Hamas's war against Israel. 

Iran-backed Hamas invaded Israel on October 7 and the Jewish state's retaliatory attacks have seen large swathes of Gaza destroyed. The Houthis' actions aim to force a ceasefire on Israel.

The Houthis claim to target exclusively Israeli and Israel-bound ships, citing a campaign initiated following a call by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, in early November, but global shipping has suffered and international vessels have been victim to attacks.

Saturday's defensive attacks are the lastest in a series of actions from the US as the Biden administration comes under increasing pressure to take action against Iran's proxies which have launched over 180 attacks on US targets in the Middle East since October 7, including a deadly attack killing troops in Jordan.

The Biden administration listed the group as specially designated global terrorists (SDGT) last month in response to their rising threats in the region. However, when the administration assumed office in early 2021, it delisted the Iran-backed Houthi designation as both a foreign terrorist organization and as a specially designated global terrorist.

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