US and UK Forces Conduct Airstrikes on Iran-Backed Houthis in Yemen

US and UK Forces Conduct Airstrikes on Iran-Backed Houthis in Yemen

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In a significant response to repeated drone and missile attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea by the Iran-backed Houthi militant group, the US and UK militaries jointly launched strikes on multiple Houthi targets in Yemen. The decision came after warnings from the Biden administration and its allies about the consequences the group would face.

President Joe Biden stated that the strikes were in direct response to the unprecedented Houthi attacks on international maritime vessels in the Red Sea. The operation, carried out with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, targeted over 60 locations associated with Houthi rebels, including command and control nodes, munitions depots, launching systems, production facilities, and air defense radar systems.

The US Air Forces Central Commander, Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, reported that more than 100 precision-guided munitions of various types were used in the strikes. The action signifies growing international concern over the threat to one of the world’s vital waterways.

While the US has previously conducted airstrikes against Iranian proxies in Iraq and Syria, this marks the first known strike against the Houthis in Yemen. The strikes, executed by fighter jets and Tomahawk missiles, focused on specific capabilities to degrade Houthi attacks on vessels in the Red Sea.

The USS Florida, a guided missile submarine, participated in the attack, firing Tomahawk land-attack missiles. The Pentagon emphasized the use of precision munitions to minimize collateral damage, stating that civilian population centers were not targeted.

The decision to conduct the strikes was prompted by Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping on Tuesday, which exacerbated the already tense situation in the region. President Biden, despite initial hesitancy to order direct action, emphasized the intolerability of Houthi attacks on international shipping lanes.

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, warned of consequences if Houthi attacks persisted, and a senior military official indicated that further action against the Houthis could follow. The UN Security Council had previously condemned the Houthi attacks on merchant vessels, demanding an immediate cessation.

Concerns about the impact of strikes on the broader Middle East region, potential retaliation by the Houthis, and the risk of upsetting a fragile truce in the Yemeni conflict have been raised. The Biden administration has sought to balance deterrence with avoiding prolonged conflict escalation.

The recent airstrikes targeted Houthi locations in cities such as Sana’a, Hodeidah, Saada, Dhamar, Taiz, and Zabid, focusing on UAV production facilities and IMD warehouses. Additionally, a batch of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles was launched from Yemen towards American battleships, according to Pentagon sources.

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