US, UK airstrikes target Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels have launched numerous attacks on international ships in the Red Sea, prompting a series of warnings from the US and others

The US and UK said they launched attacks at Houthi targets to ensure freedom of navigation in the Red Sea. (photo: DW)
The US and UK said they launched attacks at Houthi targets to ensure freedom of navigation in the Red Sea. (photo: DW)


The United States and Britain on Friday, 12 January began carrying out strikes against sites used by the Houthi rebel group in Yemen.

US officials said targets included logistical hubs, air defense systems and weapons storage locations. US media reported that the strikes involved fighter jets and Tomahawk missiles.

The Houthis are backed by Iran and control large swathes of western Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa.

Biden hails 'united' response to 'reckless' Houthi attacks

US President Joe Biden said the strikes represented a "united and resolute" response to Houthi attacks on international ships and that the US would "not hesitate to direct further measures" against the militant group.

"The response of the international community to these reckless attacks has been united and resolute," he said in a statement released by the White House. 

Biden said the US and UK strikes were carried out with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands.

"These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical commercial routes," he said.

In a separate statement, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also confirmed the strikes, saying the UK took "limited, necessary and proportionate action in self-defense" in order to "degrade Houthi military capabilities and protect global shipping."

"Despite the repeated warnings from the international community, the Houthis have continued to carry out attacks in the Red Sea," he said.

Houthi official warns of retaliation

Meanwhile, Houthi leader Abdel Malek al-Houthi vowed retaliation involving dozens of drones.

"The response to any American attack will not only be at the level of the operation that was recently carried out with more than 24 drones and several missiles," he said. "It will be greater than that."

"We will confront the American aggression," he said.

Houthi Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Al Ezzi said in a statement posted by the rebels' Al Masirah broadcaster that the US and UK will pay a "heavy price" for the strikes.

"Our country was subjected to a massive aggressive attack by American and British ships, submarines, and warplanes," he said.

"America and Britain will have to be prepared to pay a heavy price and bear all the dire consequences of this blatant aggression."

Houthi attacks in the Red Sea

Houthi rebels have, in recent weeks, launched numerous attacks on international ships in the Red Sea in reaction to the Israeli military operation in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

The route through the Suez Canal accounts for around 15% of the world's shipping traffic.

The US military said Thursday, 11 January that Houthis fired an anti-ship ballistic missile into international shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden. This was the 27th attack by the group since 19 November.

The US and its allies have issued a series of warnings to the Houthis to cease their attacks on ships. On 3 January, 12 countries warned the group of "consequences" if they did not halt the attacks.

On Wednesday, 11 January the UN Security Council approved a resolution demanding an immediate end to Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

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Published: 12 Jan 2024, 8:29 AM