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Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthis launch largest Red Sea drone and missile attack to date

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In one of their most complex attacks to date, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels targeted international shipping lanes in the southern Red Sea on Tuesday, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

On Jan. 9, at approximately 9:15 p.m. local time, the Iranian-backed Houthis launched one-way attack UAVs (OWA UAVs), anti-ship cruise missiles, and an anti-ship ballistic missile from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen towards international shipping lanes in the Southern Red Sea. It took place as dozens of merchant vessels were transiting.

This is the largest drone and missile attack from the Houthi’s since they began attacking commercial shipping in November, a U.S. official confirmed to Fox News.

It is also the 26th Houthi attack on commercial shipping lanes in the Red Sea since Nov. 19.

US-LED COALITION ISSUES WARNING TO HOUTHIS, VOWS ‘CONSEQUENCES’ FOR RED SEA ATTACKS

USS Carney

The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney in Souda Bay, Greece. The American warship and multiple commercial ships came under attack Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023 in the Red Sea, the Pentagon said, potentially marking a major escalation in a series of maritime attacks in the Mideast linked to the Israel-Hamas war.   ((Petty Officer 3rd Class Bill Dodge/U.S. Navy via AP)

In a statement posted to X, U.S. Central Command said the United States military presence in the Red Sea was able to prevent any injuries or damage.

A combined effort of F/A-18s from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS Gravely (DDG 107), USS Laboon (DDG 58), USS Mason (DDG 87), and the United Kingdom’s HMS Diamond (D34) shot down 18 OWA UAVs, two anti-ship cruise missiles, and the anti-ship ballistic missile.

Map of Yemen

This is a locator map for Yemen with its capital, Sanaa.  (AP Photo)

​It comes after 14 countries, including the U.S., issued a joint statement on Jan. 3 saying, “The Houthis will bear the responsibility for the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, or the free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways.”

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Helicopter approaching the vessel

This photo released by the Houthi Media Center shows a Houthi forces helicopter approaching the cargo ship Galaxy Leader on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. Yemen’s Houthis have seized the ship in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen after threatening to seize all vessels owned by Israeli companies.  (Houthi Media Center via AP)

The U.S. was joined by the U.K., Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore and New Zealand in Wednesday’s statement. The nations said that the destabilization of trade throughout the Red Sea is “unacceptable” and vowed consequences.

“Ongoing Houthi attacks in the Red Sea are illegal, unacceptable, and profoundly destabilizing. There is no lawful justification for intentionally targeting civilian shipping and naval vessels. Attacks on vessels, including commercial vessels, using unmanned aerial vehicles, small boats, and missiles, including the first use of anti-ship ballistic missiles against such vessels, are a direct threat to the freedom of navigation that serves as the bedrock of global trade in one of the world’s most critical waterways,” the nations wrote.

Yemeni Coast Guard boats

Members of the Yemeni Coast Guard affiliated with the Houthi group patrol the sea as demonstrators march through the Red Sea port city of Hodeida in solidarity with the people of Gaza on January 4, 2024, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the militant Hamas group in Gaza.  (AFP via Getty Images)

“Let our message now be clear: we call for the immediate end of these illegal attacks and release of unlawfully detained vessels and crews. The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways. We remain committed to the international rules-based order and are determined to hold malign actors accountable for unlawful seizures and attacks,” the statement continued.

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The second-largest Houthi attack took place in November, when the USS Carney shot down 15 drones and four cruise missiles. 

Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.


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