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Friday, May 24, 2024

Houthis claim clash with US Navy

The Yemeni group said it had scored a “direct hit” on an American warship

At least one of the missiles fired from Yemen on Wednesday afternoon struck an American warship and forced two US-owned commercial vessels to retreat, a spokesman for the Houthis has said. The US Central Command claimed that all the incoming missiles had been shot down, however.

The Shia group that controls the western part of Yemen – including the capital, Sanaa – has been harassing vessels linked to Israel since late October, in support of the Palestinians in Gaza. After British and American forces bombed Yemen earlier this month, the Houthis expanded their ban on US and UK merchant ships as well.

Read more: EU agrees on Yemen ‘mission’

”A clash took place today with some American destroyers and warships in the Gulf of Aden and Bab al-Mandab, while those ships were protecting two American commercial ships,” Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree said in a statement.

During the two-hour clash, “a direct hit on an American warship” caused the two merchant ships to retreat, Saree added. “A number of our ballistic missiles reached their targets despite the attempt of warships to intercept them.”

CENTCOM, which is in charge of US forces in the area, had a different account of events, however.

Read more: US names Yemen operation – CNN

”Iranian-backed Houthi terrorists fired three anti-ship ballistic missiles from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen toward the US-flagged, owned, and operated container ship M/V Maersk Detroit, transiting the Gulf of Aden,” the US military said on X (formerly Twitter).

”One missile impacted in the sea. The two other missiles were successfully engaged and shot down by the USS Gravely,” CENTCOM added. “There were no reported injuries or damage to the ship.”

It was unclear whether the Maersk Detroit had changed course as the result of the attack. The ship’s destination is officially listed as Namibia, on the southwest coast of Africa.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon said that its combat operations against the Houthis have been dubbed ‘Operation Poseidon Archer’, adding that it was distinct from ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian’, intended to safeguard shipping through the Bab-el-Mandeb and the Suez Canal.

About 15% of the world’s maritime trade passes through the corridor that’s in the sights of Houthi missiles. Most commercial shipping companies have already rerouted their vessels around Africa, facing skyrocketing insurance premiums.

The Houthis have vowed to continue interdicting ships linked to Israel “until the aggression stops and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted.”