Dubai, United Arab Emirates:
Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels fired two missiles late Tuesday toward merchant ships travelling in the Red Sea near the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the US military said following a report by the British maritime security agency UKMTO.
United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations had initially reported explosions near a cargo ship sailing between the coasts of Eritrea and Yemen.
“Master reports no damage to the vessel and crew are reported safe at present,” the agency, run by Britain’s Royal Navy, said in a brief message.
The US Central Command later said Houthi rebels had fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles into the southern Red Sea, where there were multiple commercial ships but “none have reported any damage”.
“These illegal actions endangered the lives of dozens of innocent mariners and continue to disrupt the free flow of international commerce,” CENTCOM said on X, formerly Twitter, adding it was the 24th attack against merchant shipping in the area since November 19.
The UN Security Council is set to hold a meeting Wednesday on maintaining international peace and security, which French diplomats said would address the issue of Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.
In recent weeks, Houthi rebels have launched a flurry of drone and missile strikes targeting commercial vessels transiting the Red Sea and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.
They say their strikes are in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel is battling Hamas militants.
The Houthis, who control the Yemeni capital Sanaa and much of the country’s Red Sea coast, have warned they will target ships sailing in the Red Sea that have links to Israel.
Several missiles and drones have been shot down by US, French and British warships patrolling the area.
According to the Pentagon, the Houthis have launched dozens of drone and missile attacks, targeting a dozen merchant ships.
The attacks endanger a transit route that carries up to 12 percent of global trade, prompting the United States to set up a multinational naval task force to protect Red Sea shipping.
On Sunday, the US military said it had sunk three Houthi boats following attacks on a container ship of Denmark’s Maersk line.
The rebels said 10 of their fighters were killed in the incident.
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