US launches cruise missiles against rebel-held Yemen
Strikes come after failed missile attacks on a US Navy ship
The US Navy destroyer USS Mason was targeted in an attempted attack. Photograph: Reuters
The US military launched cruise missile strikes on Thursday that targeted coastal radar sites in areas of Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi forces.
According to initial Pentagon reports, the three sites were destroyed.
The action comes after failed missile attacks this week on a US Navy destroyer, US officials said.
The strikes are Washington’s first direct military action against Houthi-controlled targets in Yemen’s conflict.
However, the Pentagon appeared to stress the defensive nature of the strikes, which were aimed at radar that enabled the launch of at least three missiles against the US Navy destroyer USS Mason since Sunday.
US officials said the USS Nitze launched the Tomahawk cruise missiles around 4am local time.
“These radars were active during previous attacks and attempted attacks on ships in the Red Sea,” including the USS Mason, one of the officials said.
The official said the areas targeted were near Ras Isa, north of Mukha, and near Khoka.
On Thursday, the Houthis denied again they carried out the strikes, a news agency controlled by the group reported.
The allegations were false pretexts to “escalate aggression and cover up crimes committed against the Yemeni people”, a source said.
The missile attacks on the USS Mason - the latest of which took place earlier on Wednesday - appeared to be the Houthis’ response to a suspected Saudi-led strike on mourners gathered in Yemen’s Houthi-held capital, Sanaa.
The missile incidents, along with an October 1st strike on a vessel from the United Arab Emirates, add to questions about safety of passage for military ships around the Bab al-Mandab Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.