US accuses Iran of ignoring distress calls from cargo vessel hit by Houthi missiles

The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) has accused Iran of ignoring distress calls from Palauan-flagged, Ukrainian-owned bulk cargo carrier M/V Verbena, after it was struck in two separate missile attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthis on Thursday.

In a statement issued Saturday, CENTCOM stated that the crew on board Verbena issued a distress call indicating they were abandoning the ship.

“M/V Anna Meta responded to render assistance,” CENTCOM said. “Anna Meta has recovered the mariners and is transporting them to safety. The crew abandoned ship due to continued fires and an inability to control them.”

According to CENTCOM, Iranian frigate IRIN Jamaran was eight nautical miles (approximately 9 miles) from Verbena “and did not respond to the distress call.”

“This continued malign and reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden”, Centcom added, stating it will “continue to act with partners to hold the Houthis accountable and degrade their military capabilities.”

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