U.S. strikes two Houthi missiles in Red Sea area

Biden vows to continue the attacks against the Houthis.

The US military said it destroyed two missiles that Yemen’s Houthi rebels were planning to launch into the Red Sea on Thursday, as part of a series of attacks against the Iranian-backed group that have escalated tensions in the Middle East.

President Joe Biden, who is facing a tough re-election campaign in November, said the US would keep up the pressure on the Houthis until they stop threatening international shipping in the vital waterway.

The Houthis, who have aligned themselves with the Palestinian cause in Gaza, were ready to fire the anti-ship missiles from a Houthi-held area of Yemen, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said.

“US forces attacked and eliminated the missiles in self-defense,” it said in a statement.

The US Navy carried out the latest strikes, which followed several rounds of US and British airstrikes against the Houthis since last Friday, Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said.

She said the airstrikes have “significantly degraded, disrupted and destroyed” many of the Houthis’ capabilities to launch missile and drone attacks.

The US also renewed its designation of the Houthis as a “terrorist” group on Wednesday and targeted 14 more of their missiles.

The US says its aim is to prevent the Houthis from carrying out attacks on international shipping in one of the world’s most important trade routes.

The Houthis control a large part of Yemen, which has been devastated by a civil war since 2014.

Despite the Western strikes, the Houthis have continued to attack international vessels, including a US-owned cargo ship.

The attacks on Yemen have raised concerns of a wider conflict in the region, amid the ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The White House said it did not want the attacks on the Houthis to go on indefinitely and worsen the situation in the Middle East.

“We are not seeking a confrontation with the Houthis, we are not seeking a confrontation in the region,” Kirby said. “But we have to be able to defend ourselves, not only our ships and our sailors, but also international shipping in the Red Sea.”

A senior Yemeni official said on Thursday that Yemen’s military forces needed foreign assistance to launch a ground offensive against the Houthis that would support the US and UK airstrikes.

“The ground forces need to be backed up on the ground and these forces are from the legitimate government,” Aidarus al Zubaidi, vice president of the Presidential Steering Council that unites several anti-Houthi factions, told AFP at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

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