US Forces Shoot Down Houthi Missile, Drones Targeting Warship in Red Sea
US Forces Shoot Down Houthi Missile, Drones Targeting Warship in Red Sea

By Aldgra Fredly

A U.S. destroyer shot down an anti-ship ballistic missile and three unmanned aerial vehicles fired by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel group toward the vessel in the Red Sea, the U.S. military said on March 6.

The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said that the missile and drones were launched from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen at the USS Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that has been involved in the U.S. campaign against the rebels. No injuries or damage were reported.

U.S. armed forces destroyed three more anti-ship missiles and three unmanned surface vessels in self-defense strikes, according to CENTCOM.

It stated that the missiles and drones “presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and to the U.S. Navy ships in the region,” prompting the U.S. military to launch strikes in response.

“These actions are taken to protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy and merchant vessels,” CENTCOM said in a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Houthis Target Liberian-Flagged Vessel

CENTCOM reported on March 4 that Houthi terrorists fired an anti-ship ballistic missile from Yemen into the southern Red Sea. CENTCOM said that the missile didn’t cause any injuries or damage to commercial and U.S. Navy ships in the area.

Later that day, Houthi terrorists fired two more anti-ship ballistic missiles toward a Liberian-flagged, Swiss-owned container vessel in the Gulf of Aden. One of the missiles damaged the vessel.

“Initial reports indicate there were no injuries; the ship did not request assistance and continued on its way,” the U.S. military said in a statement.

CENTCOM said that its forces also initiated self-defense strikes against two anti-ship cruise missiles that posed an imminent threat to ships in the Red Sea.

Houthi terrorists have repeatedly launched drones and missiles against international commercial shipping in the Gulf of Aden since mid-November, saying they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians against Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

The near-daily attacks have forced firms into long and costly diversions around southern Africa and stoked fears that the Israel–Hamas war could destabilize the wider Middle East. The United States and Britain have responded with strikes against Houthi targets.

U.S. and UK forces carried out wide-ranging strikes against 36 Houthi targets across Yemen last month, that seek to “disrupt and degrade” the Houthis’ capabilities against ships in the region.

Commercial ships are docked at the Houthi-held Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen, on Feb. 25, 2023. (Khaled Abdullah/Reuters)

The joint strikes, backed by several U.S. allies, targeted the Houthis’ buried weapons storage facilities, missile systems and launchers, air defense systems, and radars across 13 locations in Yemen.

“Our aim remains to de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea but let us reiterate our warning to Houthi leadership: we will not hesitate to continue to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways in the face of continued threats,” a Feb. 3 joint statement reads.

Meanwhile, Houthi telecommunications spokesman Misfer Al-Numair said on March 4 that ships will have to obtain a permit from the Houthi-controlled Maritime Affairs Authority before entering Yemeni waters.

“We are ready to assist requests for permits and identify ships with the Yemeni Navy, and we confirm this is out of concern for their safety,” Al Masirah TV, the main television news outlet run by Yemen’s Houthis, cited Mr. Al-Numair as saying.

The territorial waters affected by the Yemeni order extend halfway out into the 20-kilometer (12-mile) wide Bab al-Mandab Strait. The narrow mouth of the Red Sea is a critical passage for about 15 percent of the world’s shipping traffic en route to or from the Suez Canal.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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