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U.S. Strikes Destroy Additional Houthi Missiles

Houthi Missiles

The U.S. military struck a missile launcher belonging to Yemen’s Houthi rebels for the sixth time in the past seven days; at the same time, the White House defended the United States as taking necessary actions to protect merchant ships and U.S. warships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the United States launched three strikes on Friday (January 19) to destroy “Houthi armed missile launchers that were ready for attacks.”

An unnamed U.S. official told the media that the latest U.S. air strike, like the previous round on Thursday, was carried out by U.S. F-18 fighter jets.

U.S. officials have declined to describe a series of attacks on the Houthis as “tit for tat,” but the latest action comes two days after the Iran-backed terror group fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles at a U.S. ship in the Gulf of Aden.

The U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. forces in the region, issued a statement on Thursday saying that a tanker “M/V Chem Ranger” flying the Marshall Island flag, owned by a U.S. company and operated by a Greek company The crew saw the missile fall into the water near the ship. There were no reports of casualties or damage to the ship.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels said they carried out the attack, which a statement on social media claimed was a “direct hit” on the target.

Since the Hamas terror attack on October 7, in addition to dozens of Houthi attacks on international waterways, Iran-backed proxies have carried out more than 140 attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria.

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Earlier on Thursday, U.S. forces carried out more strikes against targets in Yemeni territory controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. Meanwhile, concerns are growing that Israel’s conflict with Hamas could expand into an all-out war across the Middle East.

“We are not seeking war,” Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters Thursday. We don’t think we are at war. We don’t want to see regional wars.

Ms. Sabrina Singh said Thursday’s airstrike destroyed two anti-ship missiles that were still on the ground but had been aimed at the southern Red Sea, posing an imminent threat to commercial ships and U.S. Navy ships in the area.

“It’s up to the Houthis to decide when they want to stop,” she told reporters. “What are the costs they are willing to endure every time they disrupt commerce?”

On Wednesday night, U.S. Navy ships used Tomahawk missiles to strike 14 Houthi rebels in western Yemen, according to U.S. Central Command.

The Houthis said they carried out the attacks to support the Palestinians in Israel’s war against Hamas militants in Gaza. The Houthis have carried out more than 30 attacks in the Red Sea.

However, the Houthis have launched attacks on ships with no apparent connection to Israel, causing some shipping companies to avoid shipping lanes where the Houthis have launched attacks.

U.S. defense officials say the Houthis have carried out at least 31 attacks on ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November 19 last year.

Major shipping lines have responded by redirecting themselves to longer, more expensive routes around Africa. The Red Sea route is an important shipping link connecting Europe and Asia, carrying about 15% of the world’s maritime traffic.

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However, a senior official of the Iran-backed terrorist group Houthi rebels said on Friday that Chinese and Russian ships would be able to pass safely through the Red Sea.

According to the media report on Friday citing the Russian media “Izvestia,” Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a member of the political leadership of the Houthi armed forces, said in an interview with “Izvestia,” The shipping lanes around Yemen are safe for ships from China and Russia as long as the ships are not linked to Israel.

Bradley Bowman, senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), criticized the Biden administration’s response to the Houthi attack. Destroying existing missiles in Yemen without a comprehensive effort to counter Iran’s weapons is tantamount to “cleaning up water in your house when the roof leaks,” he said.

At the same time, a U.S. defense official confirmed to the media that a drone crashed near Balad Air Base in Iraq at 7:20 pm local time on Thursday. Iraqi security forces recovered the MQ-9 Reaper drone. The cause of the crash is under investigation, but an Iraqi source told the media that the drone was used by Iran. He was shot down by armed militants who supported him.

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