A ship reported Monday that it came under a missile attack off Yemen’s southern coast while passing through the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait, security agencies said, AFP reports.
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Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea in recent months, claimed to have attacked a US ship with “naval missiles”although it was not immediately clear whether it was the same incident.
The British Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency said in an incident report that the attack occurred before 4 a.m. (2 a.m. Paris time).
” Safe and sound “
“The crew is safe and the ship is heading to the next port of call,” the UKMTO said.
Another security company, Ambrey, said the ship was a Greek bulk carrier flying the flag of the Marshall Islands and that it “had been targeted by missiles in two separate incidents” in 20 minutes.
He “would have been hit and suffered damage on the starboard side”, Ambrey said, adding that a private armed security team was on board.
The owner of the group and operator of the bulk carrier targeted on Monday regularly trades goods with Iran, “this was therefore considered the likely destination,” Ambrey said.
“The group that owned the bulk carrier was also listed on the New York Stock Exchange, which was identified as the likely reason for the attack,” added the same source.
The Houthis are part, along with other Iran-backed Islamist groups, of what Tehran calls “the axis of resistance” anti-Western and anti-Israeli. The Houthis have targeted transport ships in the Red Sea since November, triggering US and British retaliatory attacks.
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In “solidarity” with Palestine
The rebels claim to carry out these attacks in “solidarity” with the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, ravaged by the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas since October.
“Naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces targeted the US ship Star Iris in the Red Sea with a number of naval missiles […]and the strikes were precise and direct”said Houthi spokesperson Yahya Saree.
The Houthis “will not hesitate to carry out more operations in retaliation for Zionist crimes against our brothers in the Gaza Strip, as well as in response to the ongoing US-British aggression against our dear country.”
The Houthis have been at war since 2014 against the government of Yemen, a poor country on the Arabian Peninsula, and have taken control of vast territories including the capital Sanaa.
Houthi attacks have forced some shipping companies to bypass southern Africa to avoid the Red Sea, a vital route that normally carries about 12% of global maritime trade.
Israel’s first ally, Washington, which designated the Houthis as an entity “terrorist”, set up a multinational coalition in December to ” protect “ maritime traffic in the Red Sea.
This coalition having so far not allowed a cessation of attacks, American forces, sometimes with the British ally, have carried out several strikes against the Houthis in Yemen since mid-January.