US launches new strikes on Houthi anti-ship missiles

Pentagon says it has destroyed more than 25 missile launch and deployment sites in Yemen

Houthi fighters attend a gathering at the end of a military training session, on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen. EPA
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The US carried out more strikes in Yemen early on Wednesday, destroying two Houthi anti-ship missiles that were aimed at the Red Sea and posed an “imminent threat” to ships in the region.

“US forces identified the missiles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined that they presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and the US Navy ships in the region,” the Central Command said, adding the military “subsequently struck and destroyed the missiles in self-defence”.

It comes hours after US air strikes on Iran-backed militias in Iraq, and a day after the US and UK launched new air strikes on Houthi positions in Yemen, aimed at eight storage sites and missiles.

The Iraq strikes were “in direct response to a series of escalatory attacks against US and coalition personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-sponsored militias,” Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said as Washington increases its measures against Iran's regional proxies.

In Yemen, the Pentagon says it has destroyed or degraded over 25 missile launch and deployment sites, and more than 20 missiles, since strikes on the Houthis began on January 11.

Houthi attacks on Red Sea trade routes have caused major disruption to global shipping, and prompted several countries to boost security in the area.

Envoys to Yemen from Russia, China, France, the UK and US will meet on Wednesday to discuss the situation in the country, the Russian ambassador told state media.

“Despite the complexity of the situation in the world, we continue to exchange views within the framework of regular meetings of the 'five' ambassadors to Yemen … the next such meeting will take place on January 24,” Evgeny Kudrov told Tass.

On Tuesday, New Zealand became the latest country to announce it was sending reinforcements to the region.

The EU is also preparing to send a naval mission to protect vessels in the Red Sea, diplomats recently told The National.

Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands have also provided support in attacking Houthi positions, the UK said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi is due in Turkey on Wednesday, where he will meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks on Gaza, where at least 25,450 people have been killed in Israeli air strikes since October 7.

The Houthis claim their attacks on ships are in response to the Israeli aggression, and will only stop when the war ends and aid is allowed into the enclave. Many ships targeted in the Red Sea however, have had no links to Israeli companies.

The majority of Gaza's dead are women and children, the enclave's Health Ministry said. At least 63,354 others have been wounded, and thousands more are still trapped under the rubble of destroyed buildings.

The military has intensified its strikes on southern Gaza and has now surrounded the city of Khan Younis, where Israeli drone strikes killed a civilian outside the Al Amal Hospital on Tuesday.

Israel has resisted persistent calls for a ceasefire and also rejected US claims it would be open to a two-state solution, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying Israel must have “full security control” over Gaza and the occupied West Bank after the war.

Updated: January 24, 2024, 6:33 AM