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US and UK forces in Red Sea face increased attacks from Houthi rebels

The Houthi militants in Yemen overnight launched their biggest attempted assault to date on U.S. and British ships.
US and UK forces in Red Sea face increased attacks from Houthi rebels
Posted at 8:10 PM, Jan 10, 2024

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier scrambled F-18 fighter jets to take out enemy cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles and drones launched by Houthi rebels in what the Pentagon describes as a "complex attack" on the American and British fleet in the Red Sea by the militants in Yemen.

For over a decade, the Iranian-backed rebels have controlled the country's capital and the Red Sea coastline. Now, to show support for Palestinians in Gaza, they are attacking ships and taking hostages in one of the world's most vital transport arteries — the Suez Canal passageway linking Europe and Asia.

In a statement, the U.S. Central Command said in addition to the aircraft carrier three U.S. destroyers took part — the USS Gravely and USS Laboon, both with homeports in Norfolk, Virginia, and the USS Mason with a homeport in Mayport, Florida.

The U.K's defense secretary said it was the largest attack so far since the Houthis began targeting ships in the Red Sea. One of its warships aided in the response, fired guns at drones headed in its direction and launched Sea Viper missiles.

With global commerce at risk, the only way for the U.S. to stop the Houthis may entail a retaliatory strike on the mainland of Yemen, even though such an attack would risk upending an uneasy cease-fire in that country and further inflaming the Middle East.

"I'm just not going to speculate one way or another about next steps. As I said, we're consulting with our allies and partners about what the next steps might be again," said John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council. "The Houthis have a choice to make here ... We have made it eminently clear, as our allies and partners have, but these attacks have to stop. I'm not going to telegraph punches one way or the other."

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