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US, its allies launch strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-01-12 18:53

An aircraft takes off to join the US-led coalition operation against military targets in Yemen from an undisclosed location, in this screengrab from a handout video released on Jan 12, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - US President Joe Biden confirmed Thursday that the United States and its allies have conducted targeted strikes against a number of Houthi targets in Yemen.

The strikes were launched together with Britain and with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands, Biden said in a statement, adding they were "in direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks against international maritime vessels in the Red Sea". 

The strikes "targeted Al-Dailami air base in Sanaa, areas in Zabid District of Hodeidah province, the vicinity of the airport of Hodeidah port city, Kahlan Camp in the east of northern Saada city, and the airport of Abs district in the northwestern government of Hajjah", Houthi-controlled Saba news agency and residents said.

At least four powerful airstrikes hit the mountains around Sanaa, shaking the windows of the houses and cutting off lights in many areas, residents said, adding the Houthis have evacuated many camps adjoining the residents' neighborhoods at the center of Sanaa.

The allied airstrikes came hours after the Houthi fighters launched a ballistic missile at a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, according to a post by the US Central Command on X, formerly Twitter, on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the Houthis claimed responsibility for launching 18 bomb-laden drones and three missiles at US Navy ships stationed in the Red Sea in retaliation for the killing of 10 Houthi fighters on three small boats last week.

The Houthis said they only attack those Israel-linked or Israel-bound ships to press Israel to stop its war on the Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip.

Biden said the Houthis' attacks, including the one "directly targeting American ships" on Tuesday, "have endangered US personnel, civilian mariners, and our partners, jeopardized trade, and threatened freedom of navigation".

"I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary," the president said.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement that the strikes were "intended to disrupt and degrade the Houthis' capabilities to endanger mariners and threaten global trade in one of the world's most critical waterways".

The strikes hit "sites associated with the Houthis' unmanned aerial vehicle, ballistic and cruise missile, and coastal radar and air surveillance capabilities", said Austin, who remains in hospital due to complications following surgery to treat his prostate cancer.

A senior US military official told reporters during a background call that the strikes aimed "to remove capability for the Houthis to target maritime vessels, whether they be commercial or military". They were launched from air, surface and subsurface platforms, and destroyed multiple targets, the official added.

A variety of manned aircraft from the US Navy, the US Air Force and Britain conducted the strikes, "and precision-guided munitions were used to destroy the targets and also to minimize collateral damage," the official said, adding that the strikes inflicted "significant" damage on the Houthis' military assets.

The official said that the action was "completely separate" from Operation Prosperity Guardian, the US-led international maritime security force that Biden alluded to in his statement.

During the call, a senior administration official signaled potential future actions by the United States and its allies and partners to protect personnel and commerce in the Red Sea.

"This may well not be the last word on the topic. And when we have more to say and more to do, you will hear from us," the official said.

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