US military targets Houthi radar sites in Yemen after a merchant sailor goes missing

AP , Saturday 15 Jun 2024

The United States military unleashed a wave of attacks targeting radar sites operated by Yemen's Houthi rebels over their assaults on shipping in the crucial Red Sea corridor, authorities said Saturday, after one merchant sailor went missing following an earlier Houthi strike on a ship.

 A fighter jet lands on the USS Eisenhower
File Photo: A fighter jet lands on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, also known as IKE, in the Red Sea on Tuesday, June 11, 2024. The US-led campaign against Iran-backed Houthi rebels has turned into the most intense running sea battle the Navy has faced since World War II. AP


The attacks come as the US Navy faces the most intense combat it has seen since World War II in trying to counter the Houthi campaign, attacks the rebels say are meant to halt the Israeli war in the Gaza Strip.

However, the Iranian-backed rebel assaults often see the Houthis target ships and sailors who have nothing to do with the war while traffic remains halved through a corridor vital for cargo and energy shipments between Asia, Europe, and the Mideast.

US strikes destroyed seven radars within Houthi-controlled territory, the military's Central Command said.

It did not elaborate on how the sites were destroyed and did not immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press.

“These radars allow the Houthis to target maritime vessels and endanger commercial shipping,” Central Command said in a statement.

The US separately destroyed two bomb-laden drone boats in the Red Sea, as well as a drone launched by the Houthis over the waterway, it said.

The Houthis, who have held Yemen's capital, Sanaa, since 2014, did not acknowledge the strikes, nor any military losses.

That's been typical since the US began launching airstrikes targeting the rebels.

Meanwhile, Central Command said one commercial sailor from the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk cargo carrier Tutor remained missing after an attack Wednesday by the Houthis that used a bomb-carrying drone boat to strike the vessel.

“The crew abandoned ship and were rescued by USS Philippine Sea and partner forces,” Central Command said.

The “Tutor remains in the Red Sea and is slowly taking on water.”

The missing sailor is Filipino, according to the state-run Philippine News Agency, which cited Migrant Workers Secretary Hans Leo Cacdac. He said most of the Tutor's 22 mariners were from the Philippines.

"We’re trying to account for the particular seafarer in the ship and are praying that we could find him,” he reportedly said Friday night.

The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, killed three sailors, seized one vessel, and sunk another since November, according to the US Maritime Administration.

A US-led airstrike campaign has targeted the Houthis since January, with a series of strikes on May 30 killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.

The war in the Gaza Strip, which erupted on Oct.7, has killed at least 37,266 Palestinians there, 70% of them women and children, with another 85,102 people wounded, according to Palestinian health officials, while hundreds of others have been killed in Israeli operations in the West Bank. 

“The Houthis claim to be acting on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza and yet they are targeting and threatening the lives of third-country nationals who have nothing to do with the conflict in Gaza,” Central Command said.

“The ongoing threat to international commerce caused by the Houthis in fact makes it harder to deliver badly needed assistance to the people of Yemen as well as Gaza.”

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