Singapore not involved in strikes against Houthi rebels, part of Operation Prosperity Guardian
The US and the UK have already launched air strikes targeting Houthi positions in Yemen
Singapore did not take part in military strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen but is involved in a multinational task force aimed at keeping ships safe in the Red Sea, the Defence Ministry said on Saturday, 13 January.
Singapore troops are taking part in Operation Prosperity Guardian -- an international maritime security force formed to respond to attacks on shipping vessels by the Yemeni Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, the Defence Ministry (Mindef) said.
"Operation Prosperity Guardian is unrelated to the military strikes against the Houthis," the ministry said in the statement, quoted by The Straits Times.
Tension is growing globally over the Houthi militants targeting merchant vessels in the Red Sea amid the Israel-Hamas conflict. The Iran-backed rebels have said the attacks are meant to show support for Hamas -- a Palestinian armed group -- in its war with Israel in the Gaza Strip.
The US and the UK have already launched air strikes targeting Houthi positions in Yemen.
In December, the Singapore-flagged Danish container ship Maersk Hangzhou was hit by a Houthi missile in the Red Sea. Two US destroyers responded to its call for help and one of the warships shot down two anti-ship ballistic missiles that were being fired towards the vessel.
That same month, the rebel group said it would target all vessels, regardless of nationality, heading to Israel and warned international shipping companies against docking at Israeli ports.
US helicopters directly struck Houthi forces for the first time on 31 December, sinking three boats and killing fighters attempting to board a ship.
On Tuesday, the US and the UK shot down 21 missiles and drones in what the two countries described as the biggest Houthi attack so far that directly targeted their warships in the region.
On Friday, the two countries launched air and sea strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen.
The Houthis -- an armed rebel movement -- have come to control large parts of Yemen over the past decade.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Singapore defence minister Ng Eng Hen said the attacks by the Houthi rebels resulted in all five of the world's largest shipping companies suspending transit through the Red Sea -- the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.
He added that the Singapore Armed Forces will send a team from the Republic of Singapore Navy's Information Fusion Centre to support information sharing, and a team of planners to work with international partners on operational plans.
The Mindef statement said Operation Prosperity Guardian is an effort that comes under the ambit of the 39-nation Combined Maritime Forces, headquartered in Bahrain.
One of the missions is the Combined Task Force 153: Red Sea Maritime Security -- involving more than 20 countries and focusing on efforts to protect shipping vessels against security threats such as through information sharing and maritime patrols.
About 12 per cent of the world's seaborne trade passes through the Red Sea.