A joint statement by the United States, Great Britain and other countries including Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands said the targets were weapons depots, missile systems and missiles, air defense systems and radar equipment. It is the third joint British-US military operation against the militants in recent weeks.
“These precision strikes are aimed at disrupting and weakening the Houthis' capabilities to threaten global trade and the lives of innocent seafarers, and are in response to the Houthis' continued illegal, dangerous and destabilizing activities,” it added. Hours earlier, US regional command CENTCOM announced that the US military had once again destroyed several Houthi drones and missiles in Yemen.
According to media reports, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke of “a clear message to the Houthis”. “We will not hesitate to protect the free flow of life and commerce on one of the world's most important waterways,” Austin said, according to ABC.
The Houthis have repeatedly targeted merchant ships in the Red Sea since the Gaza war between Israel and the Islamic terrorist group Hamas began in October. The militants operate in solidarity with Hamas and are targeting cargo off the coast of Yemen with alleged Israeli links.
The shipping route from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandab Strait and the Gulf of Aden is the most important route for world trade and passes directly through Yemen. Houthi attacks on container ships have forced many shipping companies to avoid sailing through the Red Sea, leading to delays and increased freight costs due to longer detours.
US retaliatory strikes in Iraq and Syria
Since the Gaza war began, attacks by Iranian-backed militias against US military bases in Iraq and Syria have increased rapidly. Last Sunday, three US soldiers were killed in an attack in Jordan near the Syrian border. On Saturday night, the US military launched extensive airstrikes against positions of pro-Iranian militias in Iraq and Syria.
US forces carried out aerial bombardment of more than 85 targets in seven locations in both countries, including command centers, intelligence bases and weapons depots used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and allied militias.
At least 45 people were killed in the US airstrikes, according to activists and officials. A government spokesman in Baghdad said on Saturday that the 16 people killed in Iraq were civilians. According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 29 people belonging to pro-Iranian militias have been killed in Syria. An uneasy calm prevailed in both countries on Saturday.
The messenger called
Iraq's foreign ministry summoned the US embassy in Iraq's charge d'affaires, David Burger, as the US ambassador was out of the country. It was said in Baghdad that a note of protest would be issued to Burger. President Abdul Latif Rashid called for an emergency meeting of the main forces of the government and political groups to discuss the consequences of the US attacks and find a “clear and united position”. Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani declared three days of national mourning.
The Syrian Defense Ministry said the attacks were an attempt to weaken the ability of the Syrian army and its allies in the fight against terrorism. The ministry said the “US aggression” killed many civilians and military personnel and caused heavy damage, state agency SANA reported. It was said that the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants was going on in the area hit by the US military.
US President Joe Biden has vowed to retaliate for the deaths of American soldiers, and after Saturday night's airstrikes, made it clear that this was just the beginning and that further military action would follow. At the same time, Biden emphasized that the United States does not want a new conflict in the Middle East.