French navy downs two drones over Red Sea

AFP , Tuesday 20 Feb 2024

The French navy has shot down two drones over the Red Sea where Yemen's Houthi rebels have been attacking ships, the defense ministry in Paris said Tuesday.

The Languedoc
The Languedoc is one of two French frigates deployed in the Red Sea. AFP

 

The navy, which has two frigates deployed in the area, detected "multiple drone attacks originating in Yemen" overnight Monday to Tuesday, before destroying two of the unmanned aircraft, the ministry said.

The attack came a day after the European Union formally launched a naval mission to protect Red Sea shipping from the Houthis who control much of war-torn Yemen.

The rebels have been harassing the vital shipping lane since November in a campaign in solidarity with Palestinians in gace of the Israeli war on Gaza.

An official said that the European Union aims to have the mission, called Aspides, Greek for "shield", up and running in a "few weeks" with at least four vessels.

France has deployed the Alsace, a frigate with air defense capabilities, and the Languedoc, an anti-submarine frigate, in the zone.

The Languedoc previously shot down two drones in the Red Sea in self-defense in December, the foreign ministry said.

The United States is already spearheading its naval coalition in the area and has conducted retaliatory strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, as has Britain.

The dozens of Houthi attacks have roiled shipping in the Red Sea, leading some companies to take alternative routes including a two-week detour around southern Africa.

On Monday evening, the Houthis said they had targeted three vessels in the previous 24 hours, including the British-registered Rubymar, the US-owned Sea Champion and the Navis Fortuna which they described as "American".

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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