Houthis attack merchant ships in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen

Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked a merchant ship in the Red Sea on Wednesday in the latest escalation of an Iran-backed militia campaign against pro-Palestinian shipping in the Gaza Strip.

A British government maritime agency said the ship was hit in the stern by a small vessel, about 66 nautical miles southwest of the Houthi-held port of Hodeida in Yemen.

The UK Trade Maritime Operations Authority said in a statement on its website that after the attack, the ship was “on the water and without crew command”. The ship’s captain reported that it was also “hit a second time by an unidentified flying object,” the statement said.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said in a televised address that the group used unmanned surface ships, several drones and ballistic missiles to target the ship he identified as the Tutor, a Greek-owned bulk carrier. He confirmed that the ship was seriously damaged and could sink.

On Wednesday, the Houthis said they had launched two joint military operations with the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, targeting the Israeli cities of Ashdod and Haifa, a claim Israel denies.

Since November, Houthi forces have carried out dozens of attacks on ships in vital shipping lanes in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, disrupting global maritime trade.

In retaliation, the US and British navies increased air strikes against Houthi targets. Latest on June 7 after the rebel group captured 11 United Nations staff in Yemen.

US Central Command said its forces destroyed four drones and two anti-ship missiles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen last Friday, as well as a patrol boat of the Houthis in the Red Sea.

In February, American military officials said the United States had struck five Houthi military targets, including an undersea drone they described as an “unmanned submarine that they believes the Houthis may have received it from Iran.


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