Washington, Jan 10: The US Central Command (CENTCOM) on Wednesday said the Navy shot down a barrage of drone and missile attacks launched from Yemen by the Iran-backed Houthi militia to the southern Red Sea, in one of the largest attacks by the rebels in the region in recent months.
In a post on X, the CENTCOM said at about 9.15 p.m. on Tuesday night, the rebels "launched a complex attack of Iranian designed one-way attack UAVs, anti-ship cruise missiles, and an anti-ship ballistic missile from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen into the southern Red Sea, towards international shipping lanes where dozens of merchant vessels were transiting".
US Navy ships -- Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gravely, Laboon, Mason -- and the UK’s HMS Diamond jointly shot down 18 one-way attack UAVs, two anti-ship cruise missiles and one anti-ship ballistic missile, according to the Central Command.
CENTCOM also confirmed that there were no injuries or damage reported on Tuesday.
This was the 26th Houthi attack on commercial shipping lanes in the Red Sea since November 19, 2023, after it declared support for Hamas in the militant group's ongoing war with Israe.
The Houthis have used missiles, drones, fast boats and helicopters to carry out the attacks and have often claimed that the targeted ships were linked to Israel.
On January 3, a group of 12 nations -- Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK and the US -- jointly issued the formal warning to the Houthis and called the attacks in the Red Sea "illegal, unacceptable, and profoundly destabilising".
They said there was "no lawful justification for intentionally targeting civilian shipping and naval vessels", adding if the attacks continued then the Houthis would "bear the consequences".
The countries also called for an "immediate end" to the attacks which, they said, posed a "direct threat to freedom of navigation" in the critical waterway through which almost 15 per cent of global trade passes.
According to the International Chamber of Shipping, 20 per cent of the world's container ships are currently avoiding the Red Sea and steaming around southern Africa as a result of the attacks.
The Iran-backed militia however, rejected the formal warning and vowed to continue targeting "Israel-linked" vessels until the war in Gaza stopped.
In a statement on January 4, Houthi spokesperson Dhaifallah al-Shami said that it was "a moral failure and a miserable attempt to cover up the crimes of Israel", considering "America and Western countries are supporting Israel in committing more genocides against the Palestinian people", reports Xinhua news agency.
He stressed that the armed group would continue attacking what it called "Israel-linked commercial ships" until Israel ends its offensive in the Hamas-control enclave.
The Houthis control much of northern Yemen, including capital Sanaa and the strategic Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, where the group has held the Galaxy Leader, a Japanese-operated cargo ship linked to an Israeli company, and its crew, since November 19, 2023.
In December 2023, the US along with other Western countries had formed a multinational maritime coalition to secure the ships transiting the Red Sea from the Houthi attacks.