U.S., British Forces Strike Houthi Positions in Yemen

USS Carney launches an air-defense missile against a Houthi drone (USN)

Published Jan 11, 2024 7:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

[Breaking] On Thursday, the U.S. and UK conducted airstrikes on Houthi rebel positions in Yemen. The long-awaited counterstrike occurred after nearly two months of harassment and 27 attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. 

The strikes hit more than a dozen Houthi military targets, including air defense systems and weapons depots, U.S. officials told the AP. 

The airstrikes were the first retaliatory attack on Houthi militant sites in Yemen since the group began its campaign against merchant shipping in November. Britain and the United States have repeatedly warned the Houthi movement to cease its attacks on merchant traffic, but the group has persisted. On Tuesday, days after the last final warning, Houthi fighters launched their largest strike yet, targeting shipping with about two dozen drones and missiles. In the early hours of Thursday morning, another Houthi ballistic missile landed within sight of a merchant ship in the Gulf of Aden, causing no harm.

"[Thursday's] defensive action follows this extensive diplomatic campaign and Houthi rebels’ escalating attacks against commercial vessels," President Joe Biden said in a statement Thursday. "These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical commercial routes."

The White House said that the strikes were conducted with support from the Netherlands, Canada, Bahrain, and Australia, "in accordance with the inherent right of individual and collective self-defense, consistent with the UN Charter."

The U.S.-UK counterstrike was telegraphed hours in advance in the British press, and Houthi leaders appeared to anticipate it. Earlier in the day Thursday, Houthi leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi said that his team would organize another large-scale attack in response to a Western counterattack.