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U.S. coalition forces shot down 15 drones belonging to Yemen’s Houthi armed forces in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden

The U.S. military said on Saturday (March 9) that the U.S. military and coalition forces shot down 15 one-way attack drones launched by the Iranian-backed Houthi armed forces in Yemen in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden that day.

Shortly after the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) released the above news, the Houthi armed forces issued a statement claiming responsibility for the drone attack. The Houthis said in a statement that they fired missiles at an “American” merchant ship “in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden” and also launched drone attacks on U.S. warships.

Agence France-Presse pointed out in the report that since the Houthi armed forces frequently attacked commercial ships traveling in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden with anti-ship missiles and drones in November last year on the grounds of opposing Israel’s attacks on Gaza and supporting the Palestinians, this is the latest sign that the Houthis have had one of the largest attacks ever launched. The Red Sea is a key waterway for international shipping.

U.S. Central Command said the Houthis launched a “large-scale” attack into the Red Sea and the adjacent Gulf of Aden in the early hours of Saturday. Central Command and coalition forces believe the drones pose an “immediate threat to local commercial vessels, U.S. military vessels, and coalition vessels.”

The media quoted a statement from Central Command on social media “These actions are being taken to safeguard freedom of navigation and make international waterways safer.”

Houthi armed spokesman Yahya Saree later posted on the X platform that the Houthi armed forces launched a total of two rounds of attacks.

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He claimed that the first round of attacks by the Houthi armed forces targeted the “Advancing Fortune” merchant ship sailing in the Gulf of Aden, describing the merchant ship as an “American” ship. Agence France-Presse reported that the ship tracking website identified the bulk carrier as flying the Singapore flag but did not indicate the current location of the ship.

Sarea said the second attack involved “37 drones” being launched against “some U.S.” ships.

Houthi armed forces have launched attacks on merchant ships sailing in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, severely disrupting international shipping and forcing some merchant ships to take long-distance detours for safety. Under normal circumstances, 12% of global trade is transported through the Red Sea. In order to defend freedom of navigation and protect shipping, the United States announced a maritime security initiative in December last year to work with the navies and air forces of its allies to maintain the security of this critical waterway in the Red Sea.

Houthi attacks resulted in casualties for the first time this week. The Philippine government stated that the Houthi armed forces launched a missile attack on a Barbados-flagged cargo ship operating in the Gulf of Aden on March 6, causing multiple casualties, including the deaths of two Filipino crew members and the serious injuries of two other Filipino crew members.

The British freighter “Ruby” was hit by a Houthi-armed missile and sank in the Red Sea on March 7. This was the first known cargo ship to be attacked and sunk since the Houthi armed forces attacked commercial ships.

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Since January this year, the U.S. and British militaries have also launched multiple air strikes on targets such as drones and missile sites used by the Houthi armed forces to attack commercial ships in Yemen. However, the Houthi armed forces have not stopped attacking U.S. and British ships.

On January 9 this year, US and British forces shot down 18 drones and three missiles launched by the Houthi armed forces at merchant ships in the Red Sea. Agence France-Presse quoted the British side as saying that this was the largest attack launched by the Houthi armed forces so far.

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