Houthis say US, British strikes on targets in Yemen ‘will not deter us’

Iran-backed group reacts defiantly after 36 targets hit in 13 locations in response to attacks on Red Sea shipping

Houthi fighters stage a rally in support of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and against the US-led airstrikes on Yemen, in Sanaa, Yemen, January 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Osamah Abdulrahman)
Houthi fighters stage a rally in support of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and against the US-led airstrikes on Yemen, in Sanaa, Yemen, January 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Osamah Abdulrahman)

Yemen’s Houthis said Sunday that US and British air strikes “will not deter us” and vowed a response after dozens of targets were hit in retaliation for the Iran-backed rebels’ repeated Red Sea attacks.

The joint air raids in Yemen late Saturday, denounced by Iran, followed a separate wave of unilateral American strikes against Iran-linked targets in Iraq and Syria in response to a drone attack that killed three US soldiers in Jordan.

It was the third time that British and American forces have jointly targeted the Houthi terror group whose attacks, which the groups says are in solidarity with Palestinians in war-battered Gaza, have disrupted global trade.

The United States has also carried out a series of air raids against the Yemeni rebels on its own, but the attacks on the vital Red Sea trade route have persisted.

Saturday’s strikes hit “36 Houthi targets across 13 locations in Yemen in response to the Houthis’ continued attacks against international and commercial shipping as well as naval vessels transiting the Red Sea,” the United States, Britain, and other countries that provided support for the operation said in a statement.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the strikes “are intended to further disrupt and degrade the capabilities of the Iranian-backed Houthi militia to conduct their reckless and destabilizing attacks.”

Fighter jet taking off from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) during flight operations in response to increased Iranian-backed Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea, January 12, 2024. (Zachary Elmore / US NAVY / AFP)

Neither Austin nor the joint statement identified the specific places that were hit, but Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said the capital Sanaa and other rebel-held areas were targeted.

Saree reported a total of 48 airstrikes and said on social media platform X that “these attacks will not deter us from our… stance in support of the steadfast Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip,” where the Israel-Hamas war has raged since the terror group’s October 7 onslaught.

The latest strikes “will not pass without response and punishment,” Saree said.

Meeting ‘escalation with escalation’

Britain’s defense ministry said Royal Air Force Typhoon warplanes struck targets including two ground control stations used to operate attack and reconnaissance drones.

Austin said that “coalition forces targeted 13 locations associated with the Houthis’ deeply buried weapons storage facilities, missile systems and launchers, air defense systems, and radars.”

A fighter, loyal to Yemen’s Houthi rebels, stands guard during a protest following US and British forces strikes, in the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa on January 12, 2024. (Photo by MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP)

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Separately, US Central Command (CENTCOM) said its forces carried out a strike against a Houthi anti-ship missile that “prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea” early Sunday.

CENTCOM had earlier launched strikes against six other Houthi anti-ship missiles, and on Friday, the US military said its forces had shot down eight drones in and near Yemen.

The Houthis began targeting Red Sea shipping in November, saying they were hitting Israel-linked vessels in support of Palestinians in Gaza, ruled by another Iran-backed terrorist group, Hamas.

US and UK forces responded with strikes against the Houthis, who have since declared American and British interests to be legitimate targets as well.

Huthi spokesman Nasr al-Din Amer said following the Saturday strikes: “We will meet the escalation with escalation.”

Iran’s actions through proxies are ‘unacceptable’

Anger over Israel’s campaign in Gaza – which began after an unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7 in which terrorists murdered some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped 253 – has grown across the Middle East, stoking violence involving Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

On January 28, a drone slammed into a base in Jordan, killing three US soldiers and wounding more than 40 – an attack Washington blamed on Tehran-aligned forces.

US and allied troops in the region have been attacked more than 165 times since mid-October, mostly in Iraq and Syria, but the Jordan deaths were the first from hostile fire during that period.

Houthi fighters stage a rally in support of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and against the US-led airstrikes on Yemen, in Sanaa, Yemen, January 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Osamah Abdulrahman)

The United States responded Friday with strikes against dozens of targets at seven Tehran-linked facilities in Iraq and Syria but did not hit Iranian territory.

Both the Iraqi and Syrian governments condemned the Friday strikes, while Tehran said they would “have no result other than intensifying tension and instability.”

Iran also denounced the attacks, with the foreign ministry spokesman saying they “contradict” declared intentions by Washington and London to avoid a “wider conflict” in the Middle East.

Diplomatic sources have said the UN Security Council would convene Monday after Russia called for a meeting “over the threat to peace and safety created by US strikes on Syria and Iraq.”

But British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Tehran is ultimately responsible for the violence, telling the Sunday Times “We need to send the clearest possible signal to Iran that what they’re doing through their proxies is unacceptable.”

“You created them, you backed them, you financed them, you provided them with weapons, and you will ultimately be held accountable for what they do,” Cameron said.

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