Yemen rebels deny targeting US warship

AFP , Thursday 13 Oct 2016

US warship
Photo released by U.S. Navy, the guided missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) launches a strike against coastal sites in Houthi-controlled territory on Yemen's Red Sea coast Oct. 13, 2016 (Photo: AP)

Yemeni rebels on Thursday denied US accusations they had targeted a US destroyer in the Red Sea which prompted cruise missile strikes on three radar sites under their control.

"Those claims are baseless," the rebel-controlled Saba news agency quoted a military official allied with the rebels as saying.

"The (rebel-allied) army and the Popular Committees (militia) have nothing to do with this action," the official added.

The Pentagon said it hit the radar sites on Wednesday after the destroyer USS Mason was targeted by missile fire for the second time in four days.

The warship was targeted earlier on Wednesday by a missile fired from rebel-held territory which crashed into the sea before reaching its target, the Pentagon said.

It and a second vessel, the amphibious transport ship USS Ponce, were targeted on Sunday by two missiles that also fell short, it added.

The rebel official charged that the Pentagon's accusations were an attempt to provide a pretext for the intelligence and logistics support it has provided to a Saudi-led coalition which has been fighting the rebels since March last year.

"Such claims aim to create false justifications to step up attacks and to cover up for the continuous crimes committed by the (coalition) aggression against the Yemeni people," the official said.

There has been mounting international criticism of the coalition for the high civilian death toll from its bombing of rebel-held areas.

A coalition air strike killed more than 140 people attending a wake for the father of a rebel leader in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Saturday.

More than 6,800 people have been killed in Yemen since the Saudi-led intervention began, almost two-thirds of them civilians, according to the United Nations.

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