Yemen's Houthis claim missile attack on US aircraft carrier Eisenhower in Red Sea

Iran-backed group says attack is response to US and UK air strikes on Yemen

The US Navy's aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower transits the Strait of Hormuz last year. AFP
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Yemen's Houthi rebels said they launched a missile attack on the US aircraft carrier the USS Dwight D Eisenhower in the Red Sea in response to US and UK air strikes in parts of Yemen that killed 16 people and injured 42 others.

The group's spokesman Yahya Sarea said in a statement the attack against the ship was "direct and accurate".

He said the US-UK strikes hit the Yemeni provinces of Sanaa, Hodeidah and Taiz.

"The air strikes on Hodeidah have left 16 martyrs and 41 injuries, including civilians in the air strikes that targeted civilian sites such as the Hodeidah Radio building and the Coastguard facility in Al Salif Port," the spokesman added. One person was injured in a strike on Sanaa.

The air strikes also caused damage to a number of commercial ships in the port, he said.

"This represents a clear targeting of civilian objects, a blatant violation of all international laws, and a full-fledged war crime," he added.

Earlier in the day, the UK Defence Ministry said the operation against the Houthis on Thursday was carried out “to degrade their ability to persist with their attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden".

It added that the two sites near Hodeidah were involved anti-shipping attacks by the Houthis.

Buildings were identified as ground control centres for drones and storage for very long range drones, as well as surface-to-air weapons used to impede coalition operations to protect shipping in the region, the UK said.

A set of Houthi sites at Ghulayfiqah, further south on the Yemeni coast, had also been identified as being involved in the command and control of their anti-shipping campaign.

“The Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s therefore conducted strikes on the target buildings at these three locations, using Paveway IV guided bombs,” the ministry said.

“As ever, the utmost care was taken in planning the strikes to minimise any risk to civilians or non-military infrastructure,” it added.

The US Central Command (Centcom) said its forces, alongside UK Armed Forces, carried out strikes against 13 Houthi targets in areas of Yemen controlled by the Iranian-backed rebels, in self-defence.

Al Masirah TV aired images of a wounded man being carried down the stairs and others receiving treatment at a hospital.

Other missiles hit outside of the rebel-held capital, Sanaa, and elsewhere in the country, with little other information being released – possibly indicating that Houthi military sites had been struck.

US forces also destroyed eight drones in Houthi controlled areas of Yemen and over the Red Sea.

The unmanned aerial vehicles and sites “presented a threat to US and coalition forces and merchant vessels in the region”, Centcom said.

A Houthi spokesman said there were people "martyred and injured" by the US-British assault on Sanaa and Hodeidah.

“This brutal aggression against Yemen is punishment for its position in support of Gaza, and to support Israel in continuing its crimes of genocide against the wounded, besieged and steadfast Gaza Strip,” Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam wrote on the social media platform X.

Hamas condemned the strikes as "a blatant violation of the sovereignty of Yemen, and a continuation of the criminal US and British colonial policy and their role in suppressing peoples in solidarity with our Palestinian people."

This is the fifth time the US and British militaries have conducted a combined operation against the Houthis since January 12.

The strikes came a day after a US MQ-9 Reaper drone was struck down in Yemen, and the Houthis released footage they said showed the aircraft being hit with a surface-to-air missile in a desert region of Yemen’s central Marib province. It was the third such downing this month alone.

Also earlier this week, missile attacks twice damaged a Marshall Islands-flagged, Greek-owned ship in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, with a private security company saying radio traffic suggested the vessel took on water after being struck. The Houthis have claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Yemeni group has stepped up attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden in recent months, demanding that Israel end the war in Gaza, which has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians.

The war began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking 240 hostage.

The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the US Maritime Administration.

Shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden has declined because of the threat.

Updated: May 31, 2024, 1:01 PM