US, UK Air Strikes on Yemen Kill at Least 16: Houthi TV

The United States and Britain carried out air strikes on Yemen in what they said was a bid to degrade Iran-backed rebels’ maritime attack capabilities, with Houthi media on Friday reporting 16 killed.

The Houthis have been targeting shipping around the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November, citing solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which has been bombarded by Israel since militant group Hamas launched an attack inside Israel on October 7.

AFP journalists heard loud explosions in the capital Sanaa and the port city of Hodeida overnight from Thursday to Friday.

Strikes also targeted telecoms infrastructure in the town of Taez, the Houthi-controlled Al-Masirah television reported.

Citing health authorities, the TV station said 16 people were killed and more than 35 were wounded in Hodeida alone, without specifying if they were civilians or militants.

The toll reported by Al-Masirah would make the strikes among the deadliest since the United States and Britain launched a campaign in January to counter Houthi attacks off Yemen’s coast.

The channel broadcast a video purporting to depict bloodied men wounded in a strike on a Hodeida radio building.

The footage also showed other victims receiving treatment in a hospital, although AFP could not independently verify the authenticity of the images or the death toll.

A hospital employee in Hodeida said many militants were among the killed and wounded but he could not specify an exact figure.

‘Freedom of Navigation’

The British defense ministry said its planes launched strikes in “a joint operation with US forces against Houthi military facilities to degrade their ability to persist with their attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.”

The ministry said intelligence indicated two sites near Hodeida had been involved in the attacks on shipping, “with a number of buildings identified as housing drone ground control facilities and providing storage for very long-range drones, as well as surface to air weapons.”

Further south, another site “had also been identified as being involved in the command and control of their anti-shipping campaign”, it said in a statement.

The US Central Command, or CENTCOM, said 13 Houthi-held sites were targeted.

The strikes were “necessary to protect our forces, ensure freedom of navigation, and make international waters safer and more secure”, it said in a statement.

Since January, the United States and Britain have launched retaliatory strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen in response to the rebels’ attacks in the vital waterways.

In February, the Houthis held a mass funeral in Sanaa for 17 fighters they said were killed in strikes by the United States and United Kingdom.

The attacks have done little to deter the Houthis, who have vowed to target US and British vessels as well as all ships heading to Israeli ports.

The Iran-backed Houthis said Wednesday that they had attacked a Greek-owned bulk carrier and several other vessels in response to Israeli strikes on the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.

The bulk carrier Laax, a Marshall Islands-flagged and Greek-operated vessel, reported being hit by three missiles, according to CENTCOM and maritime security firms. The vessel was damaged but able to continue its voyage.

In March, a ship loaded with fertiliser sank in the Gulf of Aden after it was damaged by missiles fired by the Houthis.

And in November, the rebels seized the vehicle transporter Galaxy Leader and its crew in a helicopter-borne attack.

The Houthi attacks have prompted some shipping companies to detour around southern Africa to avoid the Red Sea route, which normally carries about 12 percent of global trade.

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