The US military has carried out new strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen, according to two US defense officials. The strikes targeted anti-ship ballistic missiles controlled by the Iran-backed rebel group. Four Houthi missiles that were preparing to launch from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen were destroyed in the operation. US officials stated that these missiles posed an imminent threat to merchant and US Navy vessels in the area. However, a few hours later, the Houthis launched an anti-ship ballistic missile into international shipping lanes in the Southern Red Sea, hitting a Maltese flagged bulk carrier called the M/V Zografia. Fortunately, the ship did not suffer significant damage and was able to continue its journey.
These strikes mark at least the third round of attacks launched by the US military against the Houthis' infrastructure since last Thursday. The previous joint operation conducted by the US and UK targeted nearly 30 locations in Houthi-controlled areas, aiming to destroy launching systems, production facilities, air defense radar systems, and command and control nodes. However, a US official revealed that the operation only destroyed less than a third of the Houthis' weapons capabilities.
The Houthis have been carrying out numerous drone and missile attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea over the past few weeks. In a significant development, a Houthi ballistic missile struck a US-owned cargo ship on Monday, marking the first successful strike on a US commercial vessel by the Iran-backed group.
In response to these attacks, President Joe Biden has stated that he will not hesitate to take further measures to protect the American people and ensure the free flow of international commerce. Additional strikes using Tomahawk land-attack missiles were carried out by the US last week to target a radar facility used by the Houthis.
While US officials have described the strikes as successful, one senior US official privately acknowledged that they did not believe the strikes significantly set back the Houthis' military efforts. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan stated that the strikes were not meant to fully deter the Houthis but rather to degrade their capabilities and make it more difficult for them to mount sustained and complex attacks.