Yemen's Houthis claim joint attacks with Iraqi militias against Israel's Haifa port

The Israeli army issued a denial after rebels claimed to have targeted two ships carrying military equipment

Banners carry portraits of Houthi fighters killed in Yemen's civil war, in Sanaa. EPA
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Yemen's Houthi rebels on Thursday said they had launched two joint military attacks with the Iraqi Islamic Resistance militia group against ships at Israel's Haifa port, a claim denied by the Israeli army.

Like Hezbollah in Lebanon and other armed groups in Syria, the Houthis and the Iraqi group, which includes several armed factions, are part of the so-called Axis of Resistance, an anti-western political and military coalition led by Tehran.

Since the war broke out in Gaza on October 7, the Iran-backed armed factions have established a daily co-ordination process through a joint command, mainly focused on picking up targets and the timings of attacks against Israel and US forces.

But this is the first time the Houthis, who have been attacking ships in the Red Sea for the past seven months, have announced a joint military operation with another armed group.

The Houthis “carried out two joint military operations with the Iraqi Islamic Resistance, targeting two ships carrying military equipment in the port of Haifa and a ship that violated the decision to ban entry to the port of Haifa”, they said in a statement.

“The two operations were carried out through a number of drones, and the casualties were accurate,” they added, emphasising that “the joint Haifa Port operation comes in response to the massacres of the Israeli enemy in the Rafah” in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

However, the Israeli military denied the claim. “It's not true,” military spokesperson Lt Col Peter Lerner was quoted as saying.

The heavily armed Houthis have been attacking western-linked shipping in the Red Sea in solidarity with their ally Hamas in Gaza. They have launched more than 50 attacks on ships since November, seized one vessel and sunk another. Shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden has declined because of the threat.

In Iraq, militant groups have also claimed attacks against Israeli targets since they halted their operations against US forces in February as part of an announced truce that involves Iran, the US and the Iraqi government.

In response to the rebels’ attacks, British and US forces launched at least five joint strikes against Houthi positions in Yemen where the rebels control the capital Sanaa and vast areas of the northern and western parts of the war-ravaged country.

Washington, however, has been carrying out almost daily strikes against Houthi targets, including incoming missiles and drones aimed at ships, as well as weapons that were prepared to launch. But the missiles and drones keep coming, putting into question the effectiveness of air power.

On Thursday, Yemen’s rebel leader Abdul Malik Al Houthi said in a speech that the rebels launched 11 attacks this week, including eight against ships.

Commenting on the alleged joint operations with the Iraqi militias, he said that this co-ordination is the beginning of an “important path that will provide a model of co-operation between the sons of Islam”.

“The joint operations will have a significant impact on the enemies and the course of joint operations with the Islamic Resistance in Iraq will be important, strategic and progressive,” he added.

Updated: June 06, 2024, 2:35 PM