US-led forces intercept Houthi missile and drones after blast reported off Yemen

No injuries or damage reported; Iran-backed rebels say they attacked US destroyer in Gulf of Aden and Israeli-linked ship in Indian Ocean

A Houthi anti-Israel and anti-US rally in Sanaa, Yemen, April 19, 2024. (Osamah Abdulrahman/AP Photo)
A Houthi anti-Israel and anti-US rally in Sanaa, Yemen, April 19, 2024. (Osamah Abdulrahman/AP Photo)

A coalition vessel successfully engaged one anti-ship ballistic missile launched from the Iranian-backed Houthi “terrorist-controlled areas” in Yemen over the Gulf of Aden, the US Central Command said on Thursday.

“The [missile] was likely targeting the MV Yorktown, a US-flagged, owned, and operated vessel with 18 US and four Greek crew members,” CENTCOM said in a statement.

“There were no injuries or damage reported by US, coalition, or commercial ships,” it added.

Separately, CENTCOM said it “successfully engaged and destroyed four airborne unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) over Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.”

The ASBM and UAVs presented an imminent threat to US, coalition, and merchant vessels in the region, it said.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen attacked the US ship Maersk Yorktown, an American destroyer in the Gulf of Aden and Israeli ship MSC Veracruz in the Indian Ocean, Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said in a televised speech on Wednesday.

Earlier Wednesday,, British maritime security firm Ambrey said that it was aware of an incident southwest of the port city of Aden, an area where the Houthis often target ships they say are linked to Israel or the United States.

The vessel reported an explosion in the water about 72 nautical miles east-southeast of Djibouti, an updated advisory from Ambrey said.

Houthi attacks have disrupted global shipping through the Suez Canal, forcing firms to re-route to longer and more expensive journeys around southern Africa. The United States and Britain have launched strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen.

The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, seized one vessel and sank another since November, according to the United States Maritime Administration.

Houthi attacks have dropped in recent weeks as the rebels have been targeted by a US-led airstrike campaign in Yemen, while shipping through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden has declined because of the threat. American officials have speculated that the rebels may be running out of weapons as a result of the US-led campaign against them and their steady usage of drones and missiles in the last months.

The Houthis have said they will continue their attacks until Israel ends its war in Gaza, sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attack, in which thousands of terrorists invaded Israel, killing some 1,200 people and taking over 250 others hostage. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 34,000 people in the Strip have been killed in the fighting so far, a figure that cannot be independently verified and includes some 13,000 Hamas gunmen Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

The ships targeted by the Houthis largely have had little or no direct connection to Israel, the US or other nations involved in the war. The rebels have also fired missiles toward Israel, though they have largely fallen short or been intercepted.

The assaults on shipping have raised the profile of the Houthis, who are members of Islam’s minority Shiite Zaydi sect, which ruled Yemen for 1,000 years until 1962. The group seized Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, in late 2014. A Saudi-led coalition has been battling the group in a stalemated conflict since 2015.

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