American forces shot down a drone off Yemen on Thursday and later destroyed an explosives-laden unmanned surface vessel that threatened ships in the Red Sea, the US military said.
The US Central Command (CENTCOM) also said Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels launched two anti-ship missiles that were possibly aimed at a cargo ship in the Red Sea, but that the missiles did not hit the vessel.
There has been a sharp uptick in Houthi military activity and US strikes and shootdowns in recent days, presenting further challenges for Washington as it prepares what it has promised will be a decisive response to the killing of three American soldiers in a drone attack in Jordan over the weekend.
Both Washington and Tehran have sought to avoid an all-out war, and the United States aims to deter further attacks but not trigger direct conflict with Iran, while also contending with other violence in the region.
CENTCOM said US forces shot down a drone over the Gulf of Aden early on Thursday, without identifying who it belonged to, while it blamed the Houthis for the bomb-rigged surface vessel, the destruction of which resulted in “significant secondary explosions” but no reports of damage or injuries.
The Houthis later fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles, “likely towards the M/V Koi in the Red Sea. The missiles impacted in the water without hitting the ship,” CENTCOM said, noting that the vessel is Liberian-flagged and Bermuda-owned.
10 Houthi Drones Destroyed
The United States also destroyed 10 Houthi drones and a ground control station shortly after midnight local time on Thursday, while an American warship shot down a missile fired by the rebels as well as three Iranian drones the previous day.
US and UK forces have responded with strikes against the Houthis, who have since declared American and British interests to be legitimate targets as well.
On Thursday, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said on social media that the rebels targeted a British commercial ship in the Red Sea “in victory for the oppression of the Palestinian people and as part of a response to the American-British aggression against our country.”
That incident could not immediately be independently confirmed.
In addition to strikes against the Houthis, the United States set up a multinational naval task force aimed at protecting shipping on the transit route, which carries up to 12 percent of global trade.
Anger over Israel’s devastating campaign in Gaza — which began after an unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7 — has grown across the Middle East, stoking violence involving Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.