Massive Retaliatory Strike Targets Iranian-Backed Houthis in Yemen, Sending a Strong Message

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and the United Kingdom launched a coordinated military strike on Thursday, targeting over a dozen sites used by Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen. This retaliation involved the use of warship-launched Tomahawk missiles and fighter jets, according to multiple U.S. officials who spoke to The Associated Press. The military targets included logistical hubs, air defense systems, and weapons storage locations in Yemen.

Residents in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, reported hearing multiple explosions, while witnesses in Hodieda, the largest port city controlled by the Houthis, also heard strong explosions. It is worth noting that there were no signs of warplanes in the area. These strikes are a direct response to a persistent campaign of drone and missile attacks on commercial ships that have been ongoing since the Israel-Hamas conflict began. The attack comes just one week after the White House and its partner nations issued a final warning to the Houthis to stop their attacks or face potential military action.

Although the warning had a temporary impact, with attacks stopping for several days, the Houthi rebels fired their largest-ever barrage of drones and missiles targeting shipping in the Red Sea earlier this week. In response, U.S. and British ships, along with American fighter jets, successfully intercepted and destroyed 18 drones, two cruise missiles, and an anti-ship missile. The Houthis later fired an anti-ship ballistic missile into the Gulf of Aden, which did not hit any ships. This ongoing conflict has seen the rebels carry out 27 attacks involving numerous drones and missiles since November 19.

During a speech, Abdel Malek al-Houthi, the supreme leader of the Houthi rebel group, warned that any attack by American forces on their sites in Yemen would trigger a fierce military response. The rebels claim that their assaults are aimed at stopping Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. However, recent attacks have targeted areas unrelated to Israel and have endangered a critical trade route connecting Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

In response to these attacks, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding an immediate cessation of the Houthis’ attacks and implicitly condemning their weapons supplier, Iran. The resolution was approved by an 11-0 vote, with Russia, China, Algeria, and Mozambique abstaining.

The participation of the United Kingdom in these strikes highlights the Biden administration’s strategy of building a broad international coalition to address the Houthi threat, rather than taking unilateral action. Currently, more than 20 nations are participating in a U.S.-led maritime mission to enhance ship protection in the Red Sea.

While the U.S. officials had refrained from specifying when they would strike back at the Houthis, the recent wave of attacks prompted renewed warnings of consequences. Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized that if the attacks persisted, there would be repercussions. The Biden administration has been cautious about taking action in Yemen, aiming to avoid further destabilizing the region and disrupting the fragile truce in place.

In summary, the U.S. and the U.K. executed a retaliatory strike against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, targeting multiple military sites. This response follows a string of attacks on commercial ships and represents the first military action taken by the United States since issuing a warning to the Houthis. The strikes demonstrate the international community’s commitment to halting the attacks and securing the Red Sea trade route.