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U.S. strikes Houthi targets in Yemen a 3rd time to thwart Red Sea attacks

Click to play video: 'Red Sea attacks: Houthis accuse US of ‘blackmail’ after rebel group re-classified as terrorists'
Red Sea attacks: Houthis accuse US of ‘blackmail’ after rebel group re-classified as terrorists
WATCH: The U.S. revealed it put Yemen's Houthi rebels back on its list of specially designated global terrorists on Wednesday, following a series of attacks on Israel-affiliated vessels on the Red Sea. The move hits the Iran-backed fighters with harsh sanctions that could cripple their ability to fund attacks in vital Red Sea shipping lanes – Jan 17, 2024

The United States launched a third round of airstrikes on Houthi military targets in Yemen, officials said Tuesday, as the Iran-backed rebel group continues to target vessels in the Red Sea.

The early morning strikes destroyed four anti-ship missiles that were prepared to launch from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, officials said.

“These missiles were prepared to launch from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and presented an imminent threat to both merchant and U.S. Navy ships in the region,” U.S. Central Command said in a statement.
Click to play video: 'Iran launch missile strikes in Pakistan, Iraq, Syria'
Iran launch missile strikes in Pakistan, Iraq, Syria

The Houthis have not stopped their attacks despite two airstrikes by U.S. and British forces last week that targeted the group’s weapons depots, launching facilities and air defence systems. The Pentagon had said it was “confident” the earlier strikes had significantly degraded the Houthis’ ability to launch more attacks in the future.

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The rebel group says the attacks in the Red Sea, a vital corridor for the world’s shipping traffic, are in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza who are facing a deadly Israeli military response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. But the missiles and drones launched by the Houthis have been predominantly aimed at western-flagged commercial vessels as well as military ships, which have shot down a majority of the projectiles.

Click to play video: 'Strikes on Houthi targets unrelated to Gaza war, says British PM Sunak'
Strikes on Houthi targets unrelated to Gaza war, says British PM Sunak

U.S. Central Command said Tuesday’s strikes were in direct response to Monday’s attack on the M/V Gibraltar Eagle, a Marshall Islands-flagged, U.S.-owned and operated container ship.

Additionally, officials said a Houthi-launched missile struck the M/V Zografia, a Maltese-flagged bulk carrier, just nine hours after the U.S. airstrikes. No injuries were reported and the Zografia was able to continue its transit through the Red Sea, the officials said.

The Red Sea attacks have already caused significant disruptions to global trade. More than a dozen shipping companies have rerouted around southern Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, adding weeks and additional fuel costs to their journeys.

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Oil prices have edged higher in recent days, though Brent crude futures were down slightly in early trading Tuesday. Tesla last week announced it would temporarily halt most production at its German factory because of attacks in the Red Sea.

The Houthis have said they will continue their attacks in the Red Sea until Israel ends its operations in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis in the besieged Palestinian territory is resolved.

Click to play video: '‘We will fight with Gaza’: Yemenis react with fury to further targeted US strikes on Houthis'
‘We will fight with Gaza’: Yemenis react with fury to further targeted US strikes on Houthis

The White House said on Tuesday that the U.S. is not looking for a war with the Houthis.

“We’re not looking to expand this. The Houthis have a choice to make and they still have time to make the right choice, which is to stop these reckless attacks,” White House spokesman John Kirby said.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said during an appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that addressing the ongoing threat by the Houthis is an “all hands on deck” problem that the U.S. and allies must address together to minimize impact on the global economy.

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“How long this goes on and how bad it gets comes down not just to the decisions of the countries in the coalition that took strikes last week,” he said.

Sullivan said it was critical that countries with influence on Tehran and other Middle East capitals make it clear “that the entire world rejects wholesale the idea that a group like the Houthis can basically hijack the world.”

— with files from the Associated Press

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