Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim fresh Red Sea ship attacks

DUBAI: Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels said Tuesday they struck US and British ships in two separate attacks in the Red Sea, one of which was confirmed by a security firm.In a statement, Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree said “the first attack targeted the American ship Star Nasia, while the other targeted the British ship Morning Tide.”Security firm Ambrey had initially reported a drone attack on a British-owned cargo ship off rebel-held Yemen but later said a projectile targeted the Barbados-flagged vessel.It was launched from a small boat sighted in the vicinity of the ship, Ambrey said, adding that the projectile did not impact the ship directly but exploded nearby, causing minor damage.There were no casualties among the crew, the British firm said.British maritime security agency UKMTO said it had received a report of an incident off the rebel-held port city of Hodeida.”The master stated that a projectile was fired at his vessel on the port side, which passed over the deck, causing slight damage to the bridge windows,” United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said, without identifying the vessel or the flag it was flying.”The vessel and crew are safe,” it added, saying the ship was proceeding on its voyage as planned.Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who control much of the war-torn country, have been harassing Red Sea shipping for months in protest against the Israel-Hamas war.Their attacks have triggered reprisals by US and British forces, including a wave of air strikes that hit dozens of targets late on Saturday.The Houthis “will carry out more military operations against all hostile American-British targets” in self-defence, Saree said in Tuesday’s statement published on X, formerly Twitter.Since November, the rebels have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea over Israel’s offensive in Gaza against Hamas. But they have frequently targeted vessels with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, imperilling shipping in a key route for trade among Asia, the Mideast, and Europe.In recent weeks, the United States and the United Kingdom, backed by other allies, have launched airstrikes targeting Houthi missile arsenals and launch sites for their attacks.The US and Britain struck 36 Houthi targets in Yemen on Saturday. An air assault on Friday in Iraq and Syria targeted other Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in retaliation for a drone strike that killed three US troops in Jordan.The US military’s Central Command separately acknowledged an attack Monday on the Houthis, in which they attacked what they described as two Houthi drone boats loaded with explosives.American forces “determined they presented an imminent threat to US Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region,” the military said. “These actions will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for US Navy vessels and merchant vessels.”(With inputs from AFP and AP)

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