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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

US says it launched strikes in Yemen against two explosive drone boats

Houthi security forces stand guard outside the Foreign Ministry in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Feb.5, 2024. The United States and Britain struck dozens of targets in Yemen on the weekend, in response to repeated attacks on Red Sea shipping by the Iran-backed Houthis that have disrupted global trade.    (Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
By John Harney, Mohammed Hatem Bloomberg News

The U.S. struck two Houthi sea drones in Yemen, as the Iran-backed group’s attacks around the Red Sea continue causing havoc in the shipping world.

American forces hit the boats around 3.30 p.m. Yemen time on Monday, the latest of several strikes on Houthi positions since mid-January.

The Houthis, a militant group that controls much of Yemen including its capital Sanaa and the Red Sea port of Hodeida, have used boats laden with explosives — as well as missiles and airborne drones — as part of their campaign to disrupt shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The Houthis started their assaults in mid-November and say they’re in support of Hamas as its war against Israel in Gaza continues.

“U.S. forces identified the explosive USVs in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined they presented an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region,” the U.S. military said late on Monday. USV is the abbreviation for uncrewed surface vehicle.

On Tuesday, the Houthis said they targeted two more ships sailing in the southern Red Sea.

One of them, a small U.K.-run container ship called Morning Tide, had steel fragments on its deck after an explosion about 50 or 60 meters away at 3:19 a.m. local time, according to the vessel’s owner, London-based Furadino Shipping Ltd. The militants said they also targeted a commodity carrier called Star Nasia.

The group has pledged to continue attacking vessels until Israel pulls out of the Gaza Strip. The U.S. has said that while it doesn’t expect to deter the Houthis, its attacks — on targets such as airports, radar stations and weapons caches — are degrading their military capabilities.

Since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and Israeli forces retaliated with an offensive on Gaza, the wider region’s been roiled by spreading violence. As well as the Houthi attacks, U.S. bases in Syria, Iraq and Jordan have been assaulted by Iran-supported groups, forcing Washington to respond with strikes of its own.