US strikes 10 Houthi drones in Yemen as militia claims new merchant ship attack in Red Sea

The US launched its 12th operation against the Iran-backed rebels in response to attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea

A US fighter jet takes off from the USS Dwight Eisenhower in the Red Sea on January 22. American forces have carried out 12 strikes on Houthi positions in Yemen. EPA
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Ten Houthi drones being prepared to launch towards ships in the Red Sea were hit overnight by US air strikes, an operation later confirmed by Centcom, the US headquarters in the Middle East.

The Iran-backed group claimed on Thursday to have struck another commercial ship with a missile.

UK maritime security company Ambrey said a vessel reported an explosion south of Aden, but offered no further details, while a Houthi spokesman said "a number of appropriate missiles", had been fired at the KOI, which had been struck.

The Houthis said the KOI was an American vessel en route to ports in "occupied Palestine", although shipping data on the vessel, analysed by energy analyst Noam Raydan, said the ship followed a set path between several ports in South Asia, the Middle East and Europe, but not Israel.

The US meanwhile continued what it called "defensive" raids against Houthi missile positions.

“A senior defence official in Bahrain just told us that 10 minutes ago the F-18 Super Hornets bombed 10 unmanned drones in western Yemen that were preparing to launch,” a CBS News reporter wrote on X.

Centcom said its forces "struck and destroyed a Houthi surface-to-air missile prepared to launch".

"US forces identified the missile in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined that it presented an imminent threat to US aircraft," it said.

Al Masirah, a Yemeni news outlet operated by the Houthis, reported an “American-British aggression [against] targets” in the city of Hodeidah. Fox News reported that the strike was unilateral.

It was the 12th strike carried out by the US against the Houthis, who have been attacking commercial shipping routes in the Red Sea. It comes on the same day that US Central Command reported American forces struck a “Houthi surface-to-air missile prepared to launch”.

The Houthis, who are allied with Hamas, began to increase their attacks on vessels in the Red Sea in October, when Israel began its war in Gaza.

Many shipping companies have rerouted their ships away from the region due to the attacks. The waterway typically carries more than 10 per cent of global trade.

In December, the US announced the formation of Operation Prosperity Guardian, an international task force aimed at protecting vessels sailing in the Red Sea.

US and Houthi clashes timeline

January 11: The US and Britain launch the first air strikes on Houthi military sites across Yemen, pledging to protect the freedom of navigation in the Red Sea. They struck radar systems, air defence systems, and storage and launch sites for attack drones, cruise missiles and other rockets, US Central Command said.

January 13: US forces conduct a strike against a Houthi radar site in Yemen. This strike was conducted by the USS Carney using Tomahawk land attack missiles.

January 16: US forces destroy four Houthi missile launchers in Yemen. The launchers were considered to be an imminent threat to commercial and US military vessels in the area.

January 17: US military forces strike 14 Houthi missiles that had been primed to fire on commercial and US naval shipping in the Red Sea, Centcom said.

January 18: US fighter jets conduct a fifth strike on Houthi targets, this time hitting two anti-ship missiles that were being prepared for launch towards the Red Sea.

January 19: US forces conduct three “self-defence strikes” against Houthi targets.

January 20: US forces carry out air strikes on a Houthi anti-ship missile ready to be used against commercial vessels and US Navy ships in the Gulf of Aden.

January 22: US and Britain strike eight Houthi targets in Yemen.

January 24: Centcom conduct strikes against two Houthi anti-ship missiles that were aimed into the Southern Red Sea and were prepared to launch from Yemen.

January 27: Centcom strikes a Houthi anti-ship missile aimed into the Red Sea.

January 31: Centcom strikes a Houthi surface-to-air missile prepared for launch.

Updated: February 01, 2024, 8:00 AM