This past weekend saw the Navy take out at least 11 anti-ship cruise missiles belonging to Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, and joint strikes on multiple Houthi positions continued as well, according to U.S. Central Command.
According to CENTCOM, U.S. forces struck five anti-ship missiles ready to launch against ships in the Red Sea in an act of “self-defense” on Sunday, after taking out six missiles on Saturday.
“U.S. forces identified the missiles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined they presented an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region,” CENTCOM said in a statement after the interceptions. “These actions will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy vessels and merchant vessels.”
On Saturday, U.S. and U.K. forces conducted strikes against 36 Houthi targets at 13 locations in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen in an attempt to quash targets that have played a role in attacking international and U.S. Navy ships in the region, CENTCOM said.
“These strikes are intended to degrade Houthi capabilities used to continue their reckless and unlawful attacks on U.S. and U.K. ships, as well as international commercial shipping in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden,” CENTCOM said in a statement on Saturday.
The Navy destroyer Laboon and F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets stationed aboard the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower shot down seven Houthi drones over the Red Sea on Friday, while other CENTCOM forces struck four Houthi drones that were ready to launch on Friday after determining “they presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and the U.S. Navy ships in the region.”
The intercepts of Houthi drones and missiles come amid continued targeting of commercial shipping vessels and Navy warships following the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October, prompting the U.S. and allied forces to start bombing Houthi sites in Yemen last month.
Additionally, the U.S. military launched an air assault on dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria used by Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds force Friday, the continuation of a series of retaliatory strikes in recent days across Iraq and Syria, following a fatal drone attack that killed three American soldiers at a base in Jordan last month.
U.S. officials have warned that it will conduct more attacks if American forces in the Mideast continue to be targeted, but that it does not want an “open-ended military campaign” across the region.
“We are prepared to deal with anything that any group or any country tries to come at us with,” Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, said over the weekend. Sullivan said Iran should expect “a swift and forceful response” if it — and not one of its proxies — “chose to respond directly” against the U.S.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Correction: an earlier version of this report inaccurately stated the number of Houthi anti-ship cruise missiles that U.S. Central Command said were taken out over the weekend. Eleven such missiles were taken out.