By Gandharvika Gopal
A rebel attack from Houthi-controlled Yemen hit three commercial ships in the southern Red Sea on Sunday. A U.S. warship shot down three drones in self-defense during the attack, the U.S. military’s Central Command said. The Houthis officially claimed two of the attacks.
Sunday’s attacks are the latest in a series of maritime strikes in the Mideast in connection with the Israel-Hamas war. Houthi spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Saree pointed to support for Palestine as a cause for the attacks.
“The Yemeni armed forces continue to prevent Israeli ships from navigating the Red Sea (and Gulf of Aden) until the Israeli aggression against our steadfast brothers in the Gaza Strip stops,” Saree said, according to reporting by the Associated Press. “The Yemeni armed forces renew their warning to all Israeli ships or those associated with Israelis that they will become a legitimate target if they violate what is stated in this statement.”
The attacks began Sunday morning in the Houthi-controlled capital of Yemen, Sanaa, Central Command said. USS Carney, a Navy destroyer, detected ballistic missiles and responded to the distress calls of nearby commercial ships, intercepting three drones in the process. The attacks targeted a Bahamas-flagged bulk carrier, the Unity Explorer, owned by a British firm with officials in Israel, along with two Panamanian-flagged bulk carriers, the Number 9 and Sophie II. The ships sustained some damages, but the missile strikes did not result in any casualties.
The U.S. military responded to the attacks in a Central Command press release on Sunday. “These attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security. They have jeopardized the lives of international crews representing multiple countries around the world,” the statement said. “We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran.” According to the Associated Press, Iran has not addressed the attacks.
Houthi rebels have launched attacks in the Red Sea and fired missiles targeting Israel in repeated attacks. The USS Carney has shot down multiple rockets fired toward Israel in response to the conflict in the Gaza Strip. Global shipping continues to be targeted as the Israel-Hamas war could become a more regional conflict.