US says it downed two Houthi drones, anti-ship missile as rebels renew attacks

No damage, injuries in strikes; missile targeted Liberian-flagged cargo ship in Gulf of Aden; rebel spokesperson claims missiles fired at Israel, although no sirens activated

File: Yemenis lift placards and Palestinian flags as they march in the Houthi-run capital Sana'a on April 19, 2024. (Mohammed Huwais/AFP)
File: Yemenis lift placards and Palestinian flags as they march in the Houthi-run capital Sana'a on April 19, 2024. (Mohammed Huwais/AFP)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United States military said Friday that coalition forces “engaged and destroyed” two drones in Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen after the Iran-backed rebels launched a ballistic missile into the Gulf of Aden.

The anti-ship missile launched on Thursday did not lead to any injuries or damage, US Central Command (CENTCOM), said in a statement on X.

Hours later, the US military “successfully engaged and destroyed one unmanned surface vessel (USV) and one unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen,” CENTCOM said.

Thursday marked the second consecutive day of attacks by the Houthis following a lull in strikes in recent weeks. American officials have speculated that the rebels may be running out of weapons as a result of both the US-led campaign against them and their steady firing of drones and missiles in the last months.

The rebels have launched dozens of missile and drone strikes targeting shipping since November, saying they were acting in solidarity with Palestinians during the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

Thursday’s missile attack targeted the Liberia-flagged cargo ship MSC DARWIN VI in the Gulf of Aden, according to the Joint Maritime Information Center, which is run by a Western-led naval coalition.

“The vessel was not hit,” the organization said Friday.

The Houthis claimed the strike, alleging that the ship was Israeli-owned.

“The operation has achieved its objectives successfully,” Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said on X on Thursday, without providing evidence.

Saree also said the Houthis “fired a number of ballistic and winged missiles” toward Israel, though there were no reports of incoming projectiles in the country.

The Houthis have made repeated claims that turned out to be false during their yearslong war in Yemen.

The Houthis, who control much of Yemen’s Red Sea coast, are part of an “axis of resistance” of Iran allies and proxies targeting Israel in protest at its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

On Wednesday, the rebels attempted an attack on MV Yorktown, a US-flagged shipping vessel, CENTCOM said.

The Houthi attacks have drawn reprisal strikes from the US and Britain since January, as well as the deployment of Western naval forces to counter strikes on ships plying the busy commercial routes.

File: In this February 24, 2024, image released by the US Central Command, a US fighter plane launches from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower in the Red Sea during operations against Houthi targets. (CENTCOM/AFP)

The Houthis have said they will continue their attacks until Israel ends its war in Gaza, which has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians there, according to the Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry. The figure, which cannot be independently verified, does not distinguish between combatants and civilians, 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.

Two hundred and sixty-one IDF soldiers have been killed in the Gaza offensive.

The war began after thousands of Hamas-led terrorists stormed southern Israel on October 7, to kill nearly 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and take over 250 hostages.

Most of the ships targeted by the Houthis 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.

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