US and UK launch joint strikes over Yemen

The strikes aimed to destroy diverse assets controlled by the Houtis.

The US and UK have initiated joint air strikes on Houthi positions in Yemen. The officials consulted said the strikes targeted various assets, such as radars, belonging to the Houthis, who are backed by Iran.

The Houthis have been launching attacks on vessels that they claim are associated with Israel, which use the vital Red Sea trade route. The US and UK have previously stated that they are trying to safeguard the route.

This is the US’s eighth strike on Houthi positions in Yemen. It is the second joint operation with the UK, following the attacks on 11 January. US fighter jets from the USS Eisenhower carrier were said to be part of Monday’s strikes.

The Houthis have shown no signs of backing down, even after the first coordinated joint air and missile strike by the US and UK ten days ago. They have persisted in firing different kinds of projectiles at shipping near Yemen’s coast, in one instance hitting a ship that was transporting Russian oil by mistake.

The US-led strikes, under the new name of Operation Poseidon Archer, have now struck new targets, after previously hitting several Houthi launch sites pre-emptively.

The Pentagon said these strikes had eliminated missiles that were ready to be launched. Western intelligence recently assessed that at least 30% of Houthi missile inventory had been destroyed or impaired. However, the Houthis, who receive support, training and guidance from Iran, are evidently determined to keep attacking shipping that they believe are linked to Israel, the US or the UK.

These attacks have made them popular among many Yemenis, who have been suffering under their harsh rule. They have also gained support from many in the broader Arab world, as the Houthis claim they are backing Hamas as part of the Iran-backed ‘Axis of Resistance’ against Israel.

The joint strikes came after US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had a phone conversation earlier on Monday.

The White House said in an official summary of their call that Mr Biden and Mr Sunak “discussed the ongoing Iranian-backed Houthi attacks on merchant and naval vessels crossing the Red Sea”. They reaffirmed “their commitment to freedom of navigation, international commerce, and protecting mariners from unlawful and unwarranted attacks”, the White House said.

It also said: “The president and prime minister discussed the importance of increasing humanitarian aid and civilian protections for people in Gaza, and securing the release of hostages held by Hamas.”

The Houthis started attacking merchant vessels in November, saying they were reacting to Israel’s military ground operation in Gaza. Since then, they have carried out numerous attacks on commercial tankers that travel through the Red Sea, one of the world’s most crowded shipping lanes.

In response, the US and UK carried out a series of air strikes on dozens of Houthi targets on 11 January.The strikes – backed by Australia, Bahrain, the Netherlands and Canada – started after Houthi forces disregarded an ultimatum to stop attacks in the area.

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