US military targets Houthi antiship cruise missiles in preemptive strikes – Al Jazeera English

Military says targets presented ‘imminent threat’ as missiles were ‘prepared to launch towards the Red Sea’.
The United States military says it conducted four “self-defence” strikes against the Houthis, destroying seven antiship cruise missiles, a mobile ballistic missile launcher and a drone originating from areas of Yemen controlled by the Iran-aligned group.
The military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) said the missiles were “prepared to launch towards the Red Sea”, adding that it also shot down a “one-way attack unmanned aircraft system” on Wednesday.
It said on Thursday that it had determined the targets presented an “imminent threat to merchant vessels and to the US Navy ships in the region”.
Feb. 21 Red Sea Rollup
On Feb. 21, between 12:00 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. (Sanaa time), U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forces conducted four self-defense strikes against seven mobile Houthi Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles and one mobile Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile launcher that were… pic.twitter.com/SxSlZWLodK
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) February 22, 2024

On Thursday, two missiles targeted a vessel transiting the Gulf of Aden, causing a fire on board, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said, adding that “coalition forces are responding”.
Security firm Ambrey also reported a fire on board a Palau-flagged, British-owned general cargo ship following two missile strikes southeast of Yemen’s Aden.
The ship “appeared to be headed from Map Ta Phut, Thailand, and headed in the direction of the Red Sea”, Ambrey said. “Merchant shipping is advised to stay clear of the vessel and proceed with caution.”
There was no immediate claim for the attack.
UKMTO WARNING INCIDENT 037 – UPDATE 001
ATTACK
Warnings – 2024 (https://t.co/5An1YH0JyE)#MaritimeSecurity #MarSec pic.twitter.com/sXwpScJ4tw
— United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) (@UK_MTO) February 22, 2024

The Israeli military said on Thursday that its Arrow missile defence system intercepted an air attack from the direction of the Red Sea as sirens sounded in the port city of Eilat.
In a post on Telegram, an Israeli army spokesperson did not say who was responsible for the attack. The Houthis have previously claimed to have fired drones and ballistic missiles towards Israel, including Eilat.
The Houthis, who control the most populous parts of Yemen, have carried out dozens of attacks on vessels with commercial ties to the US, the United Kingdom and Israel in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden since November.
US Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller said the Houthis are “behaving like a terrorist organisation – attacking civilians, civilian shipping, and innocent mariners”.
The group was still detaining the crew of the Galaxy Leader, consisting of 25 people from five countries. The Houthis took control of the ship, reported to be partly owned by an Israeli businessman and sailing under the flag of the Bahamas, in November.
“This is piracy,” Miller said on Wednesday.
The Houthis say the strikes are a response to Israel’s military operations in Gaza. Despite US-UK retaliatory strikes, they have promised to continue their campaign in solidarity with Palestinians until Israel stops the war.
Miller said their attacks on shipping vessels are “endangering an already fragile humanitarian situation” and “do nothing to help the Palestinians”.
The attacks have disrupted international commerce along a route that accounts for about 15 percent of the world’s shipping traffic. Several shipping companies have redirected their vessels around the southern tip of Africa, delaying delivery times and adding a further 3,000-3,500 nautical miles (5,500-6,500km) to their route.
“The Houthis’ attacks are driving up prices and causing delivery delays in critical humanitarian items, such as food and medicine in places where it’s needed most,” said Miller.
“This is adversely affecting those in need of assistance around the world, including in Sudan, Ethiopia and in Yemen itself,” he added. “Many of the ships that the Houthis have attacked contained food, such as grain and corn, headed for those countries.”
On Tuesday, Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdulsalam said on X: “What the world is impatiently waiting for is not the militarisation of the Red Sea, but rather an urgent and comprehensive declaration of a ceasefire in Gaza, for humanitarian reasons that are clear to anyone.”

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