NewsBiden announces successful strikes against Yemen's Houthi rebels in response to Red Sea attacks

Biden announces successful strikes against Yemen's Houthi rebels in response to Red Sea attacks

President of the USA Joe Biden
President of the USA Joe Biden
Images source: © Getty Images | Drew Angerer
2:38 AM EST, January 12, 2024

Emphasizing that the strikes are a direct response to Houthi attacks on ships sailing in the Red Sea, Biden stated that the targets consisted of the rebels' radar, missile installations, and drone facilities. On Thursday, high-ranking officials from the White House and the Pentagon shared this information.

The officials clarified that the strikes were not intended to escalate the conflict but to degrade the Houthi fighters' ability to continue attacking commercial ships, which they claimed had been successful. They also unambiguously blamed Iran for the Houthi attacks, accusing it of involvement in each stage of these actions.

Strikes made from American submarines and British fighter planes

During a press briefing, American officials revealed that the strikes on Yemen included a wide range of targets located in several cities to counter the Houthi rebels' "missile, radar, and drone capabilities". These operations were carried out using precision missiles launched from American submarines, surface vessels, and American and British fighter planes.

A representative from the Pentagon did not disclose the number of destroyed targets or the type of ammunition used but mentioned that a detailed report from the US Central Command (CENTCOM) would be forthcoming.

The Pentagon representative also noted that the support the Netherlands, Australia, Bahrain, and Canada provided was "non-operational". Following the attacks, these countries, along with Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, and South Korea, issued a joint statement warning the Houthis to cease attacking ships or face defensive action aimed at protecting life and ensuring the free flow of trade on essential sea lanes.

In a separate statement, Biden echoed this sentiment.

The strikes had a "significant" effect

Based on comments from representatives in Washington, despite the strike not eliminating all of the Houthi's offensive capabilities, it had a considerable impact. "It was a substantial action, expected to degrade the Houthi capability to conduct such attacks significantly," one White House official pointed out.

If the Iranian-backed militants continue their attacks, the US will take further action, stated the official. However, the Pentagon also stressed that the attack's targets were carefully chosen to minimize civilian casualties and avoid escalating the conflict. No retaliation from the Houthis has been observed yet, though the Defense Department is expecting such actions.

Officials reiterated their conviction that Iran, believed to be involved at every stage of the attacks, is to blame and suggested possible actions against it.

Strike is a response to the October 31 attack

In response to the Houthi attack on the Danish ship Maersk Hangzhou on October 31, Biden first ordered the drafting of a potential strike plan. The US Navy subsequently sunk three Houthi vessels trying to hijack the container ship. Biden's decision to act came after the rebels' most significant attack on January 9, using 18 drones and 3 anti-ship missiles targeted at American warships.

Without the "Prosperity Guardian" mission, which protects civilian ships from Houthi attacks, many would have been hit or even sunk, warned a representative from the US administration. They also dismissed the rebels' claims about ships being related to Israel or bound for Israeli ports.

A Pentagon representative stressed that the attack did not relate directly to the "Prosperity Guardian" mission, which is purely defensive.

Thursday's strike followed a series of Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea, which began on November 19. Despite international coalition warnings of repercussions, the Yemeni rebels have carried out 27 attacks in total.

Joe Biden's administration has faced criticism for not decisively addressing these Houthi attacks. They explained this caution as an attempt to avoid escalating tensions in the Middle East.

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