US launches third round of strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen

(CNN) — The US military launched new strikes on Houthi targets inside Yemen on Tuesday, targeting anti-ship ballistic missiles controlled by the Iran-backed rebel group, two US defense officials told CNN.

Officials said US forces shot down and destroyed four Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles that were designed to be launched from areas of Yemen controlled by the group. He also said that these targets represent an imminent threat to US Navy and commercial vessels in the area.

However, a few hours later, the Houthis launched an anti-ship ballistic missile toward international shipping lanes in the southern Red Sea, hitting the Maltese-flagged bulk carrier M/V Zographia, officials said. The ship suffered no significant damage and was able to continue its voyage.

The United States Central Command confirmed the new attacks and the impact on the M/V Zographia in a statement this Tuesday.

The move comes amid rising tensions in the Middle East and fears that the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza could spill over into the region. US officials have been saying for months that the conflict is limited in scope, but there are concerns about it escalating on several fronts.

In addition to the ongoing Houthi attacks – to which the United States has vowed to respond if the terrorist group continues to threaten the Red Sea – Washington also faces continued attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria. While Israel and Hezbollah are involved in cross-border fighting.

And this Monday, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched missile strikes against a spy base of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency in Iraq and “anti-Iran terrorist groups” in Syria. A US official later said that no US personnel or facilities were attacked.

Tuesday’s strikes are at least the third round of strikes that US forces have launched against Houthi infrastructure since last Thursday, when the United States and the United Kingdom launched a joint operation aimed at about 30 Houthi-controlled positions in Yemen. Had to target. The attacks affected launch systems, production facilities, air defense radar systems, and combat group command and control nodes.

However, that operation destroyed only less than a third of the Houthis’ weapons capabilities, a US official told CNN on Monday.

For weeks, the Houthis have carried out dozens of drone and missile strikes against commercial vessels in the Red Sea. On Monday, a Houthi ballistic missile struck a US-owned and operated cargo ship carrying steel products, appearing to be the first time the Iran-backed group has successfully attacked a US commercial ship.

United States President Joe Biden said last Thursday after his country led the attacks that he would “not hesitate to take additional measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary.”

On Friday, the United States carried out additional strikes using Tomahawk land attack missiles against a radar facility used by the Houthis.

Officials said last week’s attacks were successful as planned, but a senior US official privately admitted to CNN that he did not believe the attacks would “significantly set back their military efforts.”

Speaking about last week’s attacks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said their intention was not to stop the Houthis “completely, but to degrade their capabilities” so that their ability Attacks become more difficult as they become more persistent and complex.

“But when we launched our strikes we didn’t say they would be eliminated forever, or that the Houthis would be completely eliminated,” Sullivan said. “Our assessment is that the Houthis will continue to seek to keep this vital route at risk, and we reserve the right to take further action, but it must be a joint effort.”

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