By Andrew Thornebrooke
A U.S. Navy vessel shot down three cruise missiles over the Red Sea on Oct. 19 that may have been headed toward targets in Israel, the Pentagon said.
The incident comes amid several drone and missile strikes on U.S. and allied forces that have resulted in multiple injuries to coalition forces in the Middle East.
The USS Carney intercepted the cruise missiles and multiple drones after they were launched from the Arabian Peninsula “toward Israel,” Pentagon spokesperson Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters during an Oct. 19 briefing.
“The crew of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney, operating in the northern Red Sea earlier today, shot down three land attack cruise missiles and several drones that were launched by Houthi forces in Yemen,” he said.
“We cannot say for certain what these missiles and drones were targeting, but they were launched from Yemen heading north along the Red Sea, potentially toward targets in Israel.”
Gen. Ryder declined to acknowledge who authorized engagement with the missiles or whether they were targeting Israeli or U.S. forces.
“The decision was made that it posed a potential threat based on its flight profile, and so the decision was made to take it down,” he said.
US, Coalition Forces Under Attack
The Red Sea incident is one of several engagements with hostile drones or missiles faced by U.S. forces in the Middle East over the past two days.
Allied forces were injured during several of the attacks in both Iraq and Syria. Coalition forces at the al-Tanf garrison in southern Syria were injured on Oct. 19, when the facility came under attack by two drones.
“U.S. and Coalition forces engaged one drone, destroying it, while the other impacted the base resulting in minor injuries to coalition forces,” Gen. Ryder said.
Meanwhile, U.S. and coalition troops engaged two drones at the Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq and another at a base in northern Iraq. Some members of Coalition forces were injured in the al-Assad attack.
Additionally, U.S. and coalition forces were forced to take shelter at al-Assad when early warning systems suggested another drone strike was imminent.
While an attack never materialized, a defense contractor at the base suffered a cardiac event and died.
Gen. Ryder declined to say if the contractor was a U.S. citizen.
Drone Strikes Could Expand Israel–Hamas War
The Iran-backed Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for attacks on U.S. forces there, but Gen. Ryder declined to say whether the United States believes that Iran was behind the attacks.
He also said that there was no suggestion yet that the attacks on U.S. and allied forces were related to the ongoing Israel–Hamas War.
“We’re continuing to assess the nature of these attacks,” Gen. Ryder said.
“In the past, we have seen Iranian-backed militia conduct these types of things, but, as of right now, I don’t have any specifics to provide.”
Still, many experts warn that the Israel–Hamas War could quickly expand into a regional conflict with a devastating global impact.
To that end, the Houthis, who fired the missiles toward Israel, are backed by Iran’s Islamist regime. Iranian-backed terrorist groups in Iraq have also previously injured U.S. soldiers in similar attacks.
Additionally, terrorist group leaders in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen have all vowed within the past week that they will attack U.S. forces with drones and missiles should the United States intervene in Gaza.
While Gen. Ryder acknowledged that the attacks in Iraq, Syria, and the Red Sea present an “uptick” in drone activity in the region, he said he didn’t know of any other attempts to target Americans.
The United States’ foremost goal, he said, is to contain the Israel–Hamas War and protect U.S. forces.
“We will take all necessary actions to defend U.S. and coalition forces against any threat,” Gen. Ryder said.
“Any response, should one occur, will come at a time and a manner of our choosing.”