Witnesses in Yemen confirmed explosions throughout the country to Reuters, as President Joe Biden cautioned in a statement late on Thursday he ‘would not hesitate to carry out further action if needed.’
‘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,’ Biden said.
‘Early indications are that the Houthis’ ability to threaten merchant shipping has taken a blow,’ said the UK Ministry of Defence.
The overnight strikes in Yemen came just days after the Houthis’ largest attack to date in the Red Sea, which forced the U.S. and British naval forces to shoot down 21 Houthi drones and missiles fired towards the southern Red Sea. The U.S. military described it as a complex attack.
A Houthi official confirmed ‘raids’ in the capital Sanaa along with the cities of Saada and Dhamar as well as in Hodeidah governorate, calling them ‘American-Zionist-British aggression.’
The ongoing strikes signify most escalated tensions and a widening of the Israel-Hamas war in the Middle East since its eruption in October.
The strikes are targeting specific Houthi locations, intended to weaken their military capabilities.
The Houthis, defying international calls to halt their missile and drone attacks on Red Sea shipping routes, have continued despite warnings from the United States of consequences if they failed to do so.
The Houthis say their attacks are in support of Hamas. The rebel militia group, who seized much of Yemen in a civil war, have vowed to attack ships linked to Israel or bound for Israeli ports, but many of the targeted ships have had no links to Israel.
According to a Reuters report, the raids on Thursday targeted a military base adjacent to Sanaa airport, a military site near Taiz airport, a Houthi naval base in Hodeidah and military sites in Hajjah governorate.
Earlier on Thursday, the Houthis’ leader said any Western attack on the group would ‘not go without a response.’
The U.S. military said on Thursday that the Houthis fired an anti-ship ballistic missile into international shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden, the 27th attack by the group since Nov. 19.
US President Joe Biden, in his statement, said the Houthis directly targeted American ships.
The U.S. and British strikes are taking place outside the defensive U.S.-led coalition, known as Operation Prosperity Guardian, safeguarding commercial traffic in the Red Sea.
Biden said Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands supported the operation.
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