In the wake of a reported maritime incident off the coast of Yemen, tensions have escalated as the United States conducted a self-defence airstrike against two explosive-laden drones allegedly belonging to the Houthis, according to reports from Reuters early Tuesday.
The incident, which occurred at approximately 09:56 UTC on Thursday, 01 February, involved a merchant vessel in the vicinity of a position roughly 57 nautical miles west of Al Hudaydah, Yemen. The vessel’s master reported observing what was believed to be a missile, resulting in a large explosion in the water off the starboard side of the ship. Fortunately, the crew of the vessel was confirmed safe, and the vessel cleared the area swiftly at maximum speed.
In response to the escalating threats posed by the Houthis, U.S. President Joe Biden addressed Congress, affirming that the strikes against the group were conducted in accordance with international law and the inherent right to self-defence. President Biden emphasized the Houthis’ perceived threat to U.S. forces and navigation in the Red Sea.
Pentagon spokesperson Patrick Ryder further elucidated on the situation, condemning the Houthis’ actions as destabilising the region. Ryder stated that U.S. forces, in collaboration with allies, targeted 36 Houthi sites, including weapon depots and air defence systems, in an effort to weaken the group’s capacity to conduct attacks on ships and disrupt navigation in the Red Sea.
Ryder underscored the U.S.’s awareness of Iran’s alleged support for groups attacking U.S. forces, providing funding, equipment, and training to such entities. He acknowledged the potential for human casualties resulting from U.S. strikes in Iraq and Syria, with ongoing assessments to determine the extent of such outcomes.
In closing, Ryder reiterated the U.S.’s commitment to defending against Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, emphasising that further strikes would be pursued if necessary to degrade the group’s capabilities and ensure the safety of maritime navigation in the region. The situation remains fluid, with international attention focused on developments in the Yemeni conflict zone.
Issued: 01 Feb 2024 1005 UTC