US forces carry out more strikes against anti-ship cruise missiles, drone in Red Sea

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U.S. forces carried out more strikes against anti-ship cruise missiles and a drone in the Red Sea Thursday evening, Central Command said. 

CENTCOM forces conducted two self-defense strikes against six mobile anti-ship cruise missiles that were prepared to launch towards the Red Sea between 6 and 7:15 p.m. local time. 

Earlier in the evening, CENTCOM forces shot down a drone over the southern Red Sea in self-defense, CENTCOM said. 

“CENTCOM forces determined that the missiles and UAV presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and to the U.S. Navy ships in the region,” the command said. “These actions will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy and merchant vessels.” 

The statement comes as Houthi militants, based in Yemen, continue a series of assaults on vessels in the Red Sea over Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The ongoing assaults have caused massive delays and added fees to commercial ships forced to reroute their vessels. 

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The U.S. is building an international coalition to protect international shipping from Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. (Mass Communications Spc. 2nd Class Moises Sandoval/U.S. Navy via AP)

In January, the U.S. and its allies began carrying out strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, though the militant group has been unrelenting in its attacks. 

Earlier this week, a rocket exploded off the side of a ship traveling through the Red Sea. The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center, which oversees shipping in the Mideast, reported the attack happened around 70 miles off the coast of the Houthi-held port city of Hodeida. The rocket exploded several miles off the bow of the vessel, it said.

“The crew and vessel are reported to be safe and are proceeding to next port of call,” the UKMTO said.

Houthi protest march in Yemen

Newly recruited Houthi fighters attend a protest march against the U.S.-led strikes on Yemen and the Israeli war in the Gaza Strip, on Wednesday, Feb. 21, in Sanaa, Yemen.  (AP/Osamah Abdulrahman)

The private security firm Ambrey reported that the vessel targeted appeared to be a Marshall Islands-flagged, Greek-owned bulk carrier in the area at the time. Another ship, a Panama-flagged, Emirati-owned chemical tanker was nearby as well, Ambrey said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military’s Central Command said an American and an allied warship shot down five Houthi bomb-carrying drones in the Red Sea on Tuesday night.

Last week, Houthi rebels severely damaged a ship in a crucial strait and downed an American drone worth tens of millions of dollars. The Houthis insist their attacks will continue until Israel stops its combat operations in the Gaza Strip, which have enraged the wider Arab world and seen the Houthis gain international recognition.

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The Houthis, a Zaydi Shiite group, seized Yemen’s capital in 2014 and have battled a Saudi-led coalition since 2015. Their Zaydi people ran a 1,000-year kingdom in Yemen up until 1962.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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