U.S. and U.K. striking Houthi targets in Yemen to retaliate for spate of attacks

CBS News Live


The U.S. and U.K. have begun striking targets in Yemen to retaliate for Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, a U.S. official confirmed to CBS News on Thursday night. The Iranian-backed Houthis have been launching barrages of drone and missile attacks in the Red Sea since soon after the Israel-Hamas war began.

The Houthis launched one of the largest attacks in the Red Sea yet on Tuesday. Three U.S. destroyers along U.S. F-18s and a British warship shot down 18 drones and multiple missiles launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement. 

Tuesday’s “complex attack,” as CENTCOM described it, occurred within a week of a joint statement from the U.S. and several other countries warning that the Houthis would face “consequences” if the attacks continued. 

“The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways,” the joint statement released by the White House last Wednesday said. 

A congressional source familiar with the matter on Thursday told CBS News that “the Biden administration briefed congressional leaders today on the plans to strike Houthi rebel targets in Yemen.”  

Since Nov. 19, there have been at least 27 attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, according to CENTCOM. The attacks have prompted several giant shipping companies to avoid the Suez Canal and transit around all of Africa instead. 

In order to curb the impact on international trade, the U.S. along with several other countries launched a maritime task force “Operation Prosperity Guardian” to patrol the Red Sea. So far, the Houthis have not stopped their attacks. 

The Biden administration has focused on preventing the Israel-Hamas conflict from turning into a wider regional war across the Middle East, but since the war started, Iranian-backed proxies have been launching attacks both in the Red Sea and against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria. 

The Pentagon has tried to retaliate against other Iranian-backed militias for the steady drumbeat of attacks in Iraq and Syria without risking escalation, but the attacks have continued. There have been at least 130 attacks by Iranian-backed militias on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since October 17, including at least three since Monday. 

Thursday’s strike is the first time the U.S. has conducted strikes against the Houthis since the attacks began in November. 

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