Houthi rebels hit British ship and claim to down US drone in Yemen

The Houthis, who are supported by Iran, also said they had brought down a US MQ-9 Reaper drone near the Yemeni port of Hodeida.

A British ship flying the Belize flag was hit by a missile from Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a waterway that links the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, on Sunday. The authorities said on Monday that the crew had to leave the ship, which was damaged by an explosion near it.

The Houthis, who are supported by Iran, also said they had brought down a US MQ-9 Reaper drone near the Yemeni port of Hodeida in the Red Sea, but they did not show any proof. The US military did not confirm the incident, but it has lost drones to the rebels before.

The US military said it had carried out five airstrikes against the rebels’ military targets. One of them destroyed the first Houthi underwater drone that was detected since they started attacking international shipping in November.

The British Maritime Trade Operations Office (UKMTO) said that the ship that was attacked by the Houthis was anchored and the crew was safe. The UKMTO said that the military authorities had reported that the crew had left the ship.

The Houthis’ military spokesman, Yahya Saree, said in a statement that they had attacked a British ship in the Gulf of Aden, called ‘RUBYMAR’, with several naval missiles. He said that the ship had severe damage and stopped moving, and that they had made sure that the crew was safe.

A private security company, Ambrey, said that the cargo ship, which was registered in the UK and run by a Lebanese company, was on its way to Bulgaria from Khorfakkan in the United Arab Emirates.

The Associated Press said that it had analyzed the data from MarineTraffic.com and identified the ship as the Rubymar. The manager of the ship in Beirut could not be contacted. The Houthis also said later that the ship was the Rubymar.

Ambrey said that the ship had some cargo on it, but it was not clear what it was. The ship had switched off its tracking device when it went through the Persian Gulf this month.

The rebels have attacked ships several times in the Red Sea and nearby waters since November, because of Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza. They have targeted ships that had weak or no links to Israel, putting at risk an important trade route between Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

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