The United States and the United Kingdom, along with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, conducted large-scale retaliatory strikes against Houthi militants in Yemen.
The strikes come in response to repeated Houthi attacks on international maritime vessels in the Red Sea, with the Biden administration and its allies issuing warnings that the Iran-backed militant group would face consequences.
The Houthi rebels, officially known as Ansar Allah, emerged in the 1980s in opposition to Saudi Arabia’s religious influence in Yemen. Backed by Iran, they have been engaged in a civil war in Yemen against a supported by Saudi Arabia.
The Red Sea, a waterway connecting Europe to Asia and East Africa, saw a series of Houthi attacks on merchant and commercial vessels, including the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles.
The attacks led to a joint statement from the U.S. and Japan at the United Nations Security Council, condemning the Houthi actions and demanding an cessation of such attacks.
U.S. President Joe Biden, in a statement released by the White House, addressed the necessity of the strikes in response to Houthi attacks endangering freedom of navigation.
The strikes involved over 60 targets at 16 Houthi locations and were carried out by U.S. and coalition forces using fighter jets and Tomahawk missiles.
The United Kingdom deployed four Typhoon jets and Voyager air-to-air refueling tankers for the mission. Other nations, including Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, contributed to the strikes.
U.S. Air Forces Central Commander Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich outlined the targets, which included command and control nodes, munitions depots, launching systems, production facilities, and air defense radar systems.
The strikes resulted in casualties among the Houthi militants, with five reported dead and six wounded, according to the rebels’ military spokesperson, Yahya Sare’e.
Precise details on the percentage of Houthi assets destroyed were not provided. The emphasis was on using precision-guided munitions to target specific capabilities and minimize collateral damage.
Rear-Admiral Emmanuel Slaars, joint commander of French forces in the Red Sea region, confirmed French naval forces patrolling the waters where the Houthis operated.
Despite operating under national command, French forces collaborated and shared intelligence with the U.S.
The strikes involved a mix of fighter jets and Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from U.S. Navy surface ships and a U.S. Navy submarine, identified as the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Florida.
The use of submarines in the strikes demonstrated the versatility of platforms employed in the operation. The U.K. Royal Air Force also played a role, with four Typhoon jets carrying out targeted strikes against Houthi military facilities.
The Red Sea, one of the world’s most densely packed shipping channels, is an artery for global trade. The attacks by the Houthis had led to concerns among shipping companies, forcing some vessels to bypass the Suez Canal and around the Cape of Good Hope.
Previously, there was hesitancy to engage directly in Yemen to avoid escalating tensions in an already volatile region. The ongoing Israel-Hamas war and the Middle East dynamics is complex to the decision-making process.
Following the strikes, Houthi leaders expressed defiance, with Houthi leader Abdul Malek Al-Houthi warning of a response to any U.S. attack on Yemen. The rebels vowed to continue their aggression against commercial ships in the Red Sea.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who remains hospitalized following complications from prostate cancer surgery, played a role in ordering and monitoring the strikes in real-time from the hospital.
Prior to the strikes, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during his regional visit, warned of consequences if Houthi attacks persisted.
A resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council, with support from the U.S. and Japan, condemned Houthi attacks on merchant and commercial vessels and demanded an cessation of such actions.
The Houthi attacks were framed by the rebels as a response to the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.