The Iran-aligned rebel group has warned of more attacks against US and British warships.
The United States military has carried out new strikes against 10 drones belonging to the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen as well as a ground control centre.
On Thursday, US forces targeted a “Houthi UAV ground control station and 10 Houthi one-way UAVs” that “presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and the US Navy ships in the region”, the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement referring to unmanned aerial vehicles.
“This action will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for US Navy vessels and merchant vessels,” it added.
CENTCOM Self-Defense Strike Against Houthi UAVs and Ground Control Station pic.twitter.com/9LUKQS2HEB
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) February 1, 2024
The group said on Wednesday that all US and British warships participating in “aggression” against Yemen are targets, heightening concerns over the escalating tensions in the region as well as the increased disruption to world trade.
CENTCOM said earlier that the USS Carney had shot down an antiship ballistic missile fired by the Houthis and downed three Iranian drones less than an hour later.
It did not specify if they were surveillance drones or attack drones.
The Houthis said on Wednesday that their naval forces carried out an operation hitting an “American merchant ship” in the Gulf of Aden hours after firing missiles at the US Navy destroyer Gravely.
While the United States and Iran have avoided direct confrontation, the US has recently launched strikes on the Houthis and other Iranian-linked groups in the Middle East.
On Wednesday, CENTCOM said forces had destroyed a Houthi surface-to-air missile that posed a threat to “US aircraft”, in a marked difference from past air raids that have focused on the group’s ability to affect global shipping in the Red Sea.
The Houthis, who control the most populous parts of Yemen, began targeting Israeli-linked vessels in the Red Sea in November in what they say is an act of solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and in support of Hamas.
US and British forces have responded to the attacks by striking the Houthis, who have since declared US and British interests as legitimate targets.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his British counterpart, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, to discuss the situation in the Red Sea and the “international action to hold the Houthis accountable for their illegal and reckless attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden”, the US Department of State said on Wednesday.
The US has set up a multinational naval task force to help protect Red Sea shipping from the Houthis’ repeated attacks on the busy waterways that carry up to 12 percent of global trade.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Wednesday that the bloc also plans to launch a naval mission in the Red Sea within three weeks to help defend cargo ships.
Washington has also looked to put diplomatic and financial pressure on the Houthis. In January, the US relisted the group as “specially designated global terrorists”.