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Houthis target US destroyer in latest round of missile attacks; hit a British merchant ship

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Yemen supported by Iran Houthi rebels launched a missile on Friday at a US warship patrolling the Gulf of Aden, forcing it to shoot down the projectile, and also struck a British ship as their aggressive attacks on maritime traffic continue.

The attack on the destroyer USS Carney marked a new escalation in the largest at-sea confrontation the U.S. Navy has seen in the Middle East in decades.

The anti-ship ballistic missile was fired around 1:30 p.m. local time from Houthi-controlled Yemen toward the USS Carney on Friday, US Central Command reported. The missile was shot down by the Carney and caused no damage or injuries.

Just over six hours later, on Friday evening, the British Army’s maritime operations in the United Kingdom, which oversees Middle East waterways, acknowledged that a ship had been hit by a missile and was in fire in the Gulf of Aden.

The anti-ship ballistic missile struck the M/V Marlin Luanda – which is owned by the United Kingdom but flies the flag of the Marshall Islands – around 7:45 p.m. local time, CENTCOM reported.

The Marlin Luanda was carrying naphtha – a highly flammable liquid-hydrogen mixture derived from distilled petroleum and often used in solvents – and the missile strike caused a “major fire” in one of the ship’s holds, the ship reported on Saturday. CENTCOM.

The Marlin Luanda’s crew had “exhausted their organic firefighting capabilities,” CENTCOM said, and the USS Carney, along with ships from the French and Indian navies, responded and helped extinguish the fire .

No one on board the Marlin Luanda, which had a crew of 22 Indian nationals and one Bangladeshi national, was injured in the strike, CENTCOM said.

“Thanks to this rapid response by the US, Indian and French navies, the fire is now extinguished,” CENTCOM said in a statement. “There were no casualties during the attack, the vessel remains seaworthy and has returned to its previous route.”

The attack on the Carney represents the first time the Houthis have directly targeted a U.S. warship since the rebels began attacks on ships in October, a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no authorization had been given. was given to discuss the incident.

The Houthi military spokesperson, Brigadier-General. Gen. Yahya Saree did not acknowledge Carney’s attack, but claimed responsibility for the missile attack on the commercial vessel that set it on fire, identifying the ship as the Marlin Luanda.

The Houthis’ now direct attacks on US warships mark the most aggressive escalation of their Red Sea campaign since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas. The United States has tried to tone down its descriptions of the Houthi strikes and said it was difficult to determine exactly what the Houthis were trying to strike, and in part to try to prevent the conflict from becoming a more regional war. wide.

The American army bring Airstrikes against the Houthis have aimed to degrade their capabilities since January 11, following several weeks of attacks on commercial ships by the militant group.

The United States has launched several rounds of two different types of airstrikes: those targeting a wider range of targets, such as storage sites and radar capabilities, and also pre-emptive strikes targeting Houthi missiles while they are loaded on launchers to prepare an attack. This second category – colloquially called “whack-a-mole strikes” – has become an almost daily phenomenon.

But these American attacks do not seem to deter the Houthis. On Wednesday, the Houthis launched anti-ship ballistic missiles on the commercial vessel Maersk Detroit, owned, flagged and operated by the United States. The US Navy destroyer USS Gravely shot down two missiles and a third fell into the water. There is no indication of damage or injuries from the attack.

It’s important to recognize Friday’s assault as a direct attack on a U.S. warship, said Brad Bowman, senior director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“They are finally calling a spade a spade and saying yes, they are trying to attack our forces, they are trying to kill us,” he said.

Tempering the language and response, while aiming to prevent a broader war, had the opposite effect of further emboldening the Houthis, Bowman said.

The attacks are the latest attacks by rebels in their campaign against ships crossing the Red Sea and surrounding waters, which has disrupted global trade amid Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels drive vehicles while participating in a rally and parade denouncing U.S.-led air attacks on Yemen, on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen. January 25, 2024.

Getty Images

Since November, Houthi rebels have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea, saying they aimed to avenge Israel’s Gaza offensive against Hamas. But they have frequently targeted ships with tenuous or no ties to Israel, jeopardizing shipping on a key global trade route between Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Since the start of the airstrikes campaign, the rebels now say they will also target American and British ships.

The top U.S. Navy commander in the Middle East told The Associated Press on Monday that the Houthi attacks were the worst since the so-called tanker war of the 1980s. It culminated in a long-lasting naval battle. day between Washington and Tehran, and also saw the U.S. Navy accidentally shoot down an Iranian airliner, killing 290 people in 1988.

News Source : www.cbsnews.com

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