US jets intercept Houthi missile fired at American warship USS Laboon

The attack is the first known direct response to strikes carried out by the naval coalition on Friday

The destroyer USS Laboon is part of a US naval presence to protect shipping in the Red Sea from attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels. Photo: US Military
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US warplanes shot down a cruise missile fired by Yemen's Houthi rebels at one of its warships in the Red Sea on Sunday, in the first such attack since US and UK missiles struck the Iran-backed group.

The strikes early on Friday were a response to repeated Houthi drone and missile attacks on ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea that have disrupted global trade.

“On January 14, at approximately 4.45pm [Sanaa time], an anti-ship cruise missile was fired from Iranian-backed Houthi militant areas of Yemen towards USS Laboon, which was operating in the southern Red Sea,” the US Central Command said.

“The missile was shot down in vicinity of the coast of Hodeidah by US fighter aircraft. There were no injuries or damage reported.”

The Houthis threatened to retaliate against Friday's strikes and vowed to continue their attacks, which they say are in solidarity with Gaza.

Earlier on Sunday, Houthi media reported that the US and Britain has carried out more strikes in the rebel-held Hodeidah area.

However, a US defence official said “no US or coalition strike occurred today”.

The US-led naval coalition on Friday hit 28 locations and struck more than 60 targets with cruise missiles and bombs launched by fighter jets, warships and a submarine.

The targets included weapon depots, radar sites and command centres, including those in remote mountain areas, the US said.

The US military said on Friday evening that it had conducted a “follow-on” strike against a Houthi radar site.

The US Navy warned American-flagged vessels to steer clear of areas around Yemen in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden for 72 hours after the initial air strikes.

Britain’s Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said the strikes were intended to “send a message” as he acknowledged that much of the Houthis' offensive ability remained intact.

“Our intention is not to go into Yemen or anything like that but simply send a very clear … unambiguous message to the Iranian-backed Houthis that their behaviour in the Red Sea was completely unacceptable,” Mr Shapps said on Monday.

“What we want them to do is just stop. And that will mean there is no need for further action.

“Let's wait and see what happens, because it's not that we want to be involved in action in the Red Sea. But, ultimately, freedom of navigation is an international right.”

The US on Friday also announced sanctions linked to what it said was Iranian support for the Houthi attacks.

“The United States is today designating two additional companies that have been involved in the shipment of Iranian commodities in support of the Iran-based Houthi financial facilitator Said Al Jamal and his network,” the State Department said.

It said it is “identifying four vessels as blocked property in which these companies have an interest”.

“Iran’s financial support to the Houthis has fuelled their unrelenting attacks on global commerce in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden,” it said.

Updated: January 15, 2024, 11:51 AM