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Houthi attacks in Red Sea ‘likely to continue’, US Navy says – Magazine Creations

Iran-backed Houthi rebels operating in Yemen show no signs of abating attacks on merchant ships transiting the Red Sea, the US Navy said.

Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, the top US naval commander in the Middle East, told The Associated Press that these attacks continued despite the formation of an international maritime mission to protect ships in the vital waterway.

Cooper’s comments come after the US military announced on Saturday that it had shot down two anti-ship ballistic missiles fired at Maersk container ship in the Red Sea after the ship was hit by a missile. Two Navy destroyers responded to the call for help and the Danish-owned ship was reported to be seaworthy and no injuries were reported, according to US Central Command.

Hours later, four Houthi boats fired on the same ship and attempted to board it. US forces in two helicopters responded to the distress call and were also fired upon before sinking three of the Houthi vessels and killing the crews. The fourth vessel fled the area. No damage to US personnel or equipment was reported.

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The SKS Doyles crude oil tanker moves along the Suez Canal to Ismailia in Suez, Egypt, Thursday, December 21, 2023. A sharp drop in the number of tankers entering a vital Red Sea pipeline suggests that attacks on ships in the region is further disrupting a key artery of world trade. (Stringer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Since October 19, there have been about two dozen attacks on international shipping by the Houthis. The Houthis say their attacks are targeting ships linked to Israel to stop the Israeli offensive on Gaza.

Earlier this month, the US announced the formation of Operation Prosperity Guardian, an international initiative to protect commercial ships traveling through the Red Sea. Since then, about 1,200 merchant ships have traveled to the area and none had been hit by drone or missile strikes as of Saturday.

Men with guns on board

This photo released by the Houthi Media Center shows Houthi forces boarding the cargo ship Galaxy Leader on Sunday, November 19, 2023. (Houthi Media Center via AP)

The narrow Bab el-Mandeb strait connects the Gulf of Aden with the Red Sea and then the Suez Canal. The critical trade route connects markets in Asia and Europe. The severity of the attacks has led many shipping companies to order their ships to remain in place and not enter the strait until the security situation improves. Some large shippers sent their ships around Africa and the Cape of Good Hope, adding time and cost to the voyages.

Currently, there are five warships from the United States, France and the United Kingdom patrolling the waters of the southern Red Sea and western Gulf of Aden, said Cooper, head of the 5th Fleet. Since the start of the operation, the ships have shot down a total of 17 drones and four anti-ship ballistic missiles.

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The shipping company Maersk had earlier announced that it had decided to reroute its ships that have been stopped for days outside the strait and the Red Sea and send them to Africa. Maersk announced on December 25 that it was to resume shipping through the strait, citing the business.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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