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Yemen airstrikes – live: US seizes first batch of Iran weapons bound for Houthis since Red Sea attacks began

Aerial footage shows moment RAF Typhoon strikes Yemen military target

US naval forces have seized the first batch of Iranian weapons components bound for Houthi rebels since the militant group began its Red Sea attacks late last year.

US Central Command, which oversees the Middle East, said US Navy Seals, supported by helicopters and drones, conducted a night-time seizure of a vessel off the coast of Somalia, south of Yemen. They said it had been illegally transporting weapons parts to the Houthis.

A statement said propulsion and guidance systems, as well as warheads for medium range ballistic and anti-ship cruise missiles, were among the items seized. Air defence components were also seized.

“Initial analysis indicates these same weapons have been employed by the Houthis to threaten and attack innocent mariners on international merchant ships transiting in the Red Sea,” the statement read.

Iran has a history of supporting Yemeni Houthis – and it has long been suspected that they have been doing so for the rebels’ latest round of attacks – but these US finding amounts to the first pieces of evidence it its involvement since last Noevmber.

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UKMTO reports incident offshore Eritrea’s Assab, authorities investigating

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) organization early on Tuesday received a report of a small craft circling a vessel in the Red Sea about 57 nautical miles northwest of Eritrea’s Assab.

Vessel and crew were reported safe and are proceeding to their next port after security personnel on the ship “fired warning shots and small craft departed,” UKMTO said in an advisory note.

Yemen‘s Iranian-backed Houthi militants have stepped up attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea in protest against Israel’s war in Gaza. Various shipping lines have suspended operations, instead taking the longer journey around Africa.

The Houthi movement will expand its targets in the Red Sea region to include U.S. ships, an official from the Iran-allied group said on Monday, as it vowed to keep up attacks after U.S. and British strikes on its sites in Yemen.

Tom Watling16 January 2024 08:27

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US seizes Iranian weapons bound for Houthis

US naval forces in the Arabian Sea have seized illegal Iranian missile parts believed to be bound for the Houthis in a major first raid since the latest spate of rebel attacks.

US Central Command reported they had conducted an overnight operation off the coast of Somalia, just south of Yemen.

US Navy Seals, supported by helicopters and drones, “executed a complex boarding of the dhow (ship)”, on 11 January, according to a CentCom statement.

A statement read: “Seized items include propulsion, guidance, and warheads for Houthi medium range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) and anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), as well as air defense associated components.

“Initial analysis indicates these same weapons have been employed by the Houthis to threaten and attack innocent mariners on international merchant ships transiting in the Red Sea.”

The findings mark the first materiel pieces of evidence linking Iran to the latest round of Houthi attacks, which began in November. The Yemeni rebels  have been targeting commercial vessels heading northward through the Red Sea.

You can read the full statement below.

Tom Watling16 January 2024 11:31

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Qatari PM says ending the war in Gaza is only way to stop Houthi attacks

Military strikes will not contain attacks by Yemen’s Houthis on commercial shipping lanes in the Red Sea, but an end to the war in Gaza will, Qatar’s prime minister said on Tuesday during the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani described the current regional situation as a “recipe for escalation everywhere” and said Qatar believes that defusing the conflict in Gaza will stop the escalation on other fronts.

“We need to address the central issue, which is Gaza in order to get everything else defused…if we are just focusing on the symptoms and not treating the real issues, (solutions) will be temporary,” he said.

Conflict has spread to parts of Middle East since the war between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas began on 7 October, with groups allied to Iran carrying out attacks in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi group has since November been attacking vessels in the Red Sea, part of a route that accounts for about 12 percent of the world’s shipping traffic, in what they say is an effort to support Palestinians in the war with Israel.

US and British forces have responded by carrying out dozens of air and sea strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen since Friday.

Sheikh Mohammed said US and British attacks create “a high risk of further escalation and further expansion of” the conflict.

“We always prefer diplomacy over any military resolutions,” he said.

Without a viable, sustainable two-state solution in Israel and Palestine, the international community will be unwilling to finance the reconstruction of Gaza, Sheikh Mohammed said.

“The bigger picture cannot be ignored,” he said, urging the international community to require Israel to agree to a time-bound, irreversible pathway to a two-state solution.

“We cannot leave this just at the hand of the Israelis,” he said.

ohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani (C), Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, speaks during a panel session at the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum

(EPA)

Tom Watling16 January 2024 11:00

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UK will ‘back words with actions’, says Sunak as Houthis strike US-owned ship off Yemen coast

The prime minister’s defiant statement in the Commons on Monday – suggesting he was prepared to sanction further strikes if necessary – came shortly after a missile struck a US-owned ship off the coast of Yemen.

Tom Watling16 January 2024 10:30

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Houthi attacks have taken heavy toll on Yemen’s economy, says vice president

Months of Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea have taken a heavy toll on Yemen’s economy, the country’s vice president has said.

Since last November, Houthi rebels have launched nearly 30 attacks from western Yemen, an area of the country they wrested from the Yemeni government in the summer of 2014.

In response, a US-led naval coalition has been stationed in the Red Sea nearby and has launched multiple attacks on Houthi positions in Yemen.

Aidarous al-Zubaidi, Yemen’s vice president and head of the Southern Transitional Council, a group backed by the United Arab Emirates, said the conflict is having a hugely detrimental effect on the country.

Mr Zubaidi said the turmoil created by the Houthis was affecting an economy that had already taken a beating during the militant group’s war against the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which includes the government and has been waged for eight years.

The Houthis have vowed to expand its targets in the Red Sea region to include US ships, an official from the group said on Monday, after the US and British strikes last week.

Houthi fighters and tribesmen stage a rally against the US and the UK strikes on Houthi-run military sites near Sanaa, Yemen

(AP)

Tom Watling16 January 2024 10:00

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Qatari PM: US/British attacks will not contain Yemen’s Houthis without diplomatic efforts

US and British military strikes will not contain the attacks by Yemen’s Houthis on commercial shipping lanes in the Red Sea without diplomatic efforts, Qatar’s prime minister said on Tuesday during the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said Qatar believes that defusing the conflict in Gaza will stop the escalation on other fronts, adding that the current regional situation is a “recipe for escalation everywhere”.

Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani speaks during a session of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum

(AFP via Getty Images)

Tom Watling16 January 2024 09:31

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Why are Britain and US attacking Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels?

The attacks came after the Houthis launched their largest attack yet on Red Sea shipping, one of 27 such assaults since 19 November.

Officials said that 21 missiles and drones were fired at warships and commercial vessels near the Bab al-Mandab Strait early last week, the southern bottleneck of the Red Sea, with US and UK warships blowing them out of the sky.

Tom Watling16 January 2024 09:05

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Who are Yemen’s Houthis? The Iran-backed rebels attacking ships in the Red Sea

The Islamist group claims it began striking a narrow strip of sea between Yemen and east Africa, which is a key international trade route, in a bid to end Israel’s air and ground offensive against Hamas.

In retaliation, Britain and the US launched air strikes across Yemen against Houthi forces. President Joe Biden called the strikes a “direct response” to an onslaught of attacks on Red Sea ships which “jeopardised trade, and threatened freedom of navigation”.

Mr Sunak said the action was “necessary and proportionate”.

Tom Watling16 January 2024 07:47

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A timeline of the Houthi attacks that led to US and UK airstrikes

US and British forces launched airstrikes against dozens of targets across Yemen on January 11 in retaliation for months of attacks by the country’s Houthi movement on commercial and military vessels in the Red Sea.

Those attacks, launched by the Iran-backed group in response to Israel’s war in Gaza, have wrought havoc on international shipping and drawn the US and its allies into a regional conflict.

The Pentagon said 60 targets were hit using more than 150 precision-guided munitions.

Tom Watling16 January 2024 07:20

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Will the clash with the Houthi rebels lead to global conflict?

Would the US and the UK be prepared to put boots on the ground in Yemen (as Boris Johnson proposed)?

Will a prolonged air campaign be enough to paralyse the Iran-backed Houthis? T

here are many difficult questions left to answer over the Middle East’s latest hotspot, warns Kim Sengupta.

Will the clash with the Houthi rebels lead to global conflict?

Would the US and the UK be prepared to put boots on the ground in Yemen (as Boris Johnson proposed)? Will a prolonged air campaign be enough to paralyse the Iran-backed Houthis? There are many difficult questions left to answer over the Middle East’s latest hotspot, warns Kim Sengupta

Barney Davis16 January 2024 06:25


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