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Pakistan-Iran strikes latest: At least 9 dead as Islamabad hits back following missile attack from Tehran

At least nine people have been killed after Pakistan fired a salvo of retaliatory drones and rockets across the Iranian border following attacks on their own soil two days ago.

Iranian media said several missiles hit a village in the Sistan-Baluchestan province that borders Pakistan, causing a number of civilian deaths, while Pakistan said they had struck separatist Baloch militants.

The neighbours have had rocky ties in the past, but the strikes are the highest-profile cross-border intrusions in recent years and come amid growing worries about instability in the Middle East since the war between Israel and Hamas erupted on 7 October.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry described the attacks as a “series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts”.

Iran said on Tuesday it had hit targets inside Pakistan that it alleged were bases of Jaish al Adl (JAA). All the targeted groups are ethnically Baloch, but it was not clear if JAA has links with the other two.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan said civilians were hit and two children killed, warning of consequences for which Tehran would be responsible.

Key Points

Pakistan conducts retaliatory strikes inside Iran amid fears of widening conflict

Thursday 18 January 2024 09:24 , Tom Watling

Iran says at least seven people, including four children, have been killed in missile strikes by Pakistan on Iranian soil, two days after Iran launched its own strikes in Pakistan.

Pakistan had warned Tehran there would be “serious consequences” for Tuesday’s attack, which it said killed at least two children in western Pakistan.

Multiple blasts were heard in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan on Thursday, according to state news agency IRNA.

Pakistan conducts retaliatory strikes inside Iran amid fears of widening conflict

This blog has been paused

Thursday 18 January 2024 16:05 , Tom Watling

This blog has been paused. You can read our latest wrap on the exchanges between Pakistan and Iran below.

Pakistan conducts retaliatory strikes inside Iran amid fears of widening conflict

US military launches another barrage of missiles against Houthi sites in Yemen

Thursday 18 January 2024 16:00 , Tom Watling

The U.S. military fired another wave of ship- and submarine-launch missile strikes against Houthi-controlled sites Wednesday, U.S. officials said, marking the fourth time in days it has directly targeted the group in Yemen as violence that ignited in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war continues to spill over in the Middle East.

The strikes followed the official announcement that the U.S. has put the Houthis back on its list of specially designated global terrorists. The sanctions that come with the formal designation are meant to sever violent extremist groups from their sources of financing.

US military launches another barrage of missiles against Houthi sites in Yemen

Israel says interceptor launch in Red Sea triggered by false alarm

Thursday 18 January 2024 15:17 , Tom Watling

The Israeli military has said that its sounding of sirens in the southern resort of Eilat and launching of an interceptor missile over the Red Sea were due to a false alarm.

During the more than three-month Gaza war, Eilat has been the target of long-range missile and drone launches by Yemen’s Houthis who, like the Palestinian militant group Hamas, are Iranian-aligned.

After sirens sounded in Eilat, witnesses reported hearing an explosion and local TV carried images of smoke over the Gulf of Aqaba. The military said it had launched an interceptor missile at an incoming threat, without specifying if it was shot down.

In a follow-up statement, the military said the incident was due to a misidentification, by its sensors, of the interceptor launch as an incoming threat - which set off the sirens.

The military did not immediately explain why the interceptor was launched. Medics said no one was hurt in the incident.

Continuing Red Sea attacks on cargo ships ‘concerning’, says Sunak

Thursday 18 January 2024 14:45 , Tom Watling

Britain is continuing to urge Houthi rebels to “desist” from carrying out “illegal” and disruptive attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea, the Prime Minister has said.

Speaking during a press conference in Downing Street, Rishi Sunak said the situation remained “concerning” as attacks on commercial shipping in the region persisted despite RAF intervention.

The UK joined the US in carrying out air strikes against the Iran-backed militant group last week but clashes along vital global trade routes in the Middle East, with warships also being targeted, have continued since.

Continuing Red Sea attacks on cargo ships ‘concerning’, says Sunak

Here are some of the latest photos from Iran following Pakistani airstrikes over the border

Thursday 18 January 2024 14:18 , Tom Watling

Below are some of the latest photos from Iran following Pakistani strikes across the border.

People gather near rubble in the aftermath of Pakistan's military strike on an Iranian village near Saravan, Sistan and Baluchestan Province, Iran, January 18 (via REUTERS)
People gather near rubble in the aftermath of Pakistan's military strike on an Iranian village near Saravan, Sistan and Baluchestan Province, Iran, January 18 (via REUTERS)
At least nine people are believed to have been killed by the attacks (via REUTERS)
At least nine people are believed to have been killed by the attacks (via REUTERS)

Why are Iran and Pakistan striking each other’s territory amid crisis in Middle East?

Thursday 18 January 2024 13:40 , Tom Watling

Pakistan and Iran launched air strikes into each other’s territories this week in most significant escalation of tensions between two neighbours, inflaming the already strained ties at a time of rising turmoil in the Middle East.

The latest developments are threatening to escalate into a major conflict in the region and spiral out of control as rising tensions in the Middle East with the Israel-Hamas war are having repercussions all over the world despite intensified diplomatic efforts.

The risk of unprecedented escalation is exacerbated as Iran had been flexing its muscle in the region even before it hit Pakistan.

Why are Iran and Pakistan striking each other’s territory amid Middle East crisis?

Russia calls on Iran and Pakistan to show ‘maximum restraint’ and embrace diplomacy

Thursday 18 January 2024 13:00 , Tom Watling

Russia’s foreign ministry has called on Iran and Pakistan to show maximum restraint and solve their differences through diplomacy or risk playing into the hands of those who would like to see the region descend into chaos.

Moscow spoke out after Pakistan said it had used killer drones and rockets to strike separatist Baloch militants inside Iran on Thursday, two days after Tehran said it had attacked the bases of another group within Pakistani territory.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in a statement noted that the two countries are part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a grouping that Russia helped found.

“It is regrettable that this is happening between friendly SCO countries, with which we are developing partnership relations. Further aggravation of the situation plays into the hands of those who are not interested in peace, stability and security in the region,” said Zakharova.

Any anti-terrorist operation on another country’s sovereign territory had to be carried out in agreement and coordination with the authorities of that country, she said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has called on Iran and Pakistan to show maximum restraint (AP)
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has called on Iran and Pakistan to show maximum restraint (AP)

US pledges new sanctions over Houthi attacks will minimize harm to Yemen's hungry millions

Thursday 18 January 2024 12:35 , Tom Watling

The United States on Wednesday put Yemen‘s Houthis rebels back on its list of specially designated global terrorists, piling financial sanctions on top of American military strikes in the Biden administration’s latest attempt to stop the militants’ attacks on global shipping.

Officials said they would design the financial penalties to minimize harm to Yemen’s 32 million people, who are among the world’s poorest and hungriest after years of war between the Iran-backed Houthis and a Saudi-led coalition.

US pledges new sanctions over Houthi attacks will minimize harm to Yemen's hungry millions

US launches fourth day of strikes against Houthis in Yemen targeting missiles ready for launch

Thursday 18 January 2024 12:05 , Tom Watling

The US military carried out more strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen on Wednesday, the US Central Command said.

It marks the fourth time within a week that the United States targeted the Iran-backed rebel group.

The military said it “conducted strikes on 14 Iran-backed Houthi missiles that were loaded to be fired in Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen”.

“These missiles on launch rails presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and US Navy ships in the region and could have been fired at any time prompting US forces to exercise their inherent right and obligation to defend themselves,” it added.

US launches more strikes against Houthis in Yemen targeting missiles ready for launch

Iran and Pakistan don't want to escalate, Turkey says

Thursday 18 January 2024 11:35 , Tom Watling

Iran and Pakistan do not want to escalate tensions in the region, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said on Thursday after holding calls with counterparts from the two countries which traded cross-border strikes in the last two days.

At a news conference in Jordan, Fidan said Turkey recommended that the sides do not escalate further and that calm should be restored as soon as possible.

Israel must let displaced Gazans return to their homes, Jordan minister says

Thursday 18 January 2024 11:18 , Tom Watling

Israel should allow displaced Palestinians in Gaza to return to their homes, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Thursday.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Turkey's Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Amman, Safadi also said it was essential to end the war in Gaza and avert an escalation of violence in the wider region.

“With regard to the current priorities, they are clear: ending the aggression in Gaza, letting in sufficient permanent humanitarian aid to all parts of the Strip, south and north, stopping the destruction, and working immediately for the return of displaced Gazans to their areas and homes,” Safadi said.

The Israeli offensive - launched in the wake of a deadly rampage by Hamas militants in southern Israel on 7 October in which Israel says 1,200 people were killed - has displaced most of Gaza's population of 2.3 million and caused the deaths of more than 24,000 people, Palestinian health officials say.

Armed groups backed by Iran have launched attacks in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen in solidarity with the Palestinians.

MAPPED: Where did Pakistan and Iran fire missiles?

Thursday 18 January 2024 10:41 , Tom Watling

Below you can see the locations of where the Iranian strike on Pakistan, as well as Islamabad’s relatiatory strike on Thursday, allegedly hit terrorist hideouts.

Pakistan Army says it used drones, rockets to hit militant groups in Iran

Thursday 18 January 2024 10:19 , Tom Watling

Pakistan‘s army has announced it carried out precision strikes in Iran using killer drones, rockets, loitering munitions and stand-off weapons that struck “terrorist” groups Balochistan Liberation Army and the Balochistan Liberation Front.

It said maximum care was taken to avoid collateral damage and urged “dialogue and cooperation” in resolving issues between the two “brotherly countries”. Pakistan‘s strikes came two days after Iranian missiles and drones targeted what its state media said were two bases of militant group Jaish al Adl.

Members of Muslim Talba Mahaz Pakistan chant slogans at a demonstration to condemn Iran strike in the Pakistani border area, in Islamabad, Pakistan (AP)
Members of Muslim Talba Mahaz Pakistan chant slogans at a demonstration to condemn Iran strike in the Pakistani border area, in Islamabad, Pakistan (AP)

Turkey calls on Iran, Iraq and Pakistan to show restraint

Thursday 18 January 2024 10:09 , Tom Watling

Turkey’s foreign ministry has called for Iran, Iraq and Pakistan to show restraint and common sense after an escalation of tensions in the region, most recently with Pakistan conducting strikes inside Iran.

“We believe the problems should be resolved with an understanding of friendship and brotherhood, based on mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries,” the ministry said in a statement.

Indian navy rescues commercial crew after vessel hit by Houthi drone

Thursday 18 January 2024 09:01 , Tom Watling

India’s navy rescued nearly two dozen crewers aboard a shipping vessel in the Gulf of Aden after it was struck by a Houthi drone, a spokesperson for the naval force has revealed.

The Marshall Islands-flagged MV Genco Picardy was hit late on Wednesday just hours after the US redesignated the Houthi rebels as a terrorist organisation.

The drone smashed into the side of the bulk carrier, photos posted by the Indian navy have shown, causing a fire that was quickly extinguished.

US, British aircraft target several areas in Yemen, Saba news agency

Thursday 18 January 2024 08:30 , Tom Watling

The Houthi-controlled Saba news agency have claimed that US and British aircraft targeted a number of areas in Yemen in overnight strikes.

The governorates that were targeted were Hodeidah, Taiz, Dhamar, al Bayda and Saada, the agency said.

The UK has not declared any involvement in the latest round of strikes on Houthi positions; the claims from Saba likely reflect a prevailing anti-US and UK sentiment among within the militant group.

US military conducts fresh strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen

Thursday 18 January 2024 08:00 , Maroosha Muzaffar

The US military carried out more strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen on Wednesday, the US Central Command said.

The military said that it “conducted strikes on 14 Iran-backed Houthi missiles that were loaded to be fired in Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen”.

It added: “These missiles on launch rails presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and US Navy ships in the region and could have been fired at any time prompting US forces to exercise their inherent right and obligation to defend themselves.”

It said the strikes and “other actions we have taken” would “degrade the Houthi’s capabilities to continue their reckless attacks on international and commercial shipping in the Red Sea, the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden”.

Mapped: How the US and UK attacks on Houthi rebels took place and what weapons were used?

Thursday 18 January 2024 07:00 , Maroosha Muzaffar

After two months of continual Iran-backed Houthi attacks on commercial vessels, the US and the UK launched more than 100 strikes against the militant group’s positions across western Yemen.

Huge explosions were seen in Yemeni cities including Sana’a and Hodeidah in the early hours of 12 January, with the US military saying 60 strikes were launched against 16 sites linked to the Houthis’ military operations. On Wednesday, the US military carried out more strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, the US Central Command said.

The military said that it “conducted strikes on 14 Iran-backed Houthi missiles that were loaded to be fired in Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen”.

Below, The Independent looks at how the attacks unfolded and what weapons were used in the strikes.

How did the US and UK attacks on Houthi rebels happen and what weapons were used?

Italy responds to questions about deployment of EU naval mission to Red Sea against Houthis

Thursday 18 January 2024 06:28 , Maira Butt

Italy wants fellow European Union members to agree next week to create an EU maritime security mission so that it can become operational as soon as possible, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said on Wednesday.

On January 1, 2024, Italy assumed the Presidency of the G7 and Tajani answered questions about the possible deployment of an EU naval mission to protect ships from attacks by Yemen’s Houthi militia in the Red Sea.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani listens to questions during a press conference on G7 at the Foreign Ministry in Rome, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. (AP)
Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani listens to questions during a press conference on G7 at the Foreign Ministry in Rome, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. (AP)

Will the clash with the Houthi rebels lead to global conflict?

Thursday 18 January 2024 06:00 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Would the US and the UK be prepared to put boots on the ground in Yemen (as Boris Johnson proposed)? Will a prolonged air campaign be enough to paralyse the Iran-backed Houthis? There are many difficult questions left to answer over the Middle East’s latest hotspot, warns Kim Sengupta:

Will the clash with the Houthi rebels lead to global conflict?

US pledges new sanctions over Houthi attacks will minimize harm to Yemen's hungry millions

Thursday 18 January 2024 05:30 , Maira Butt

The United States on Wednesday put Yemen‘s Houthis rebels back on its list of specially designated global terrorists, piling financial sanctions on top of American military strikes in the Biden administration’s latest attempt to stop the militants’ attacks on global shipping.

Officials said they would design the financial penalties to minimize harm to Yemen’s 32 million people, who are among the world’s poorest and hungriest after years of war between the Iran-backed Houthis and a Saudi-led coalition.

But aid officials expressed concern. The decision would only add “another level of uncertainty and threat for Yemenis still caught in one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises,” Oxfam America associate director Scott Paul said.

US pledges new sanctions over Houthi attacks will minimize harm to Yemen's hungry millions

US military launches another barrage of missiles against Houthi sites in Yemen

Thursday 18 January 2024 05:00 , Maroosha Muzaffar

The US military fired another wave of ship- and submarine-launch missile strikes against Houthi-controlled sites Wednesday, US officials said, marking the fourth time in days it has directly targeted the group in Yemen as violence that ignited in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war continues to spill over in the Middle East.

US military launches another barrage of missiles against Houthi sites in Yemen

Who are Yemen’s Houthis and why are they attacking ships in the Red Sea?

Thursday 18 January 2024 04:33 , Maira Butt

Tensions in the Middle East have risen after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels began striking at ships passing through the Red Sea in December.

The Islamist group claims it began striking a narrow strip of sea between Yemen and east Africa, which is a key international trade route, in a bid to end Israel’s air and ground offensive against Hamas.

In retaliation, Britain and the US launched air strikes across Yemen against Houthi forces. President Joe Biden called the strikes a “direct response” to an onslaught of attacks on Red Sea ships which “jeopardised trade, and threatened freedom of navigation”.

A Yemeni man watches a broadcast speech of Yemen's Houthi Military spokesperson brigader Yahya Sarea on TV relating to the attack on the Zografia ship in the Red Sea (Getty Images)
A Yemeni man watches a broadcast speech of Yemen's Houthi Military spokesperson brigader Yahya Sarea on TV relating to the attack on the Zografia ship in the Red Sea (Getty Images)

US to re-list Houthis as terrorist group amid Red Sea attacks

Thursday 18 January 2024 04:00 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Nearly three years after removing them from US government rolls of international terrorist groups, the Biden administration is re-adding the Yemen-based Houthis to a list of specially designated global terrorists following a series of attacks by the group on US forces and international shipping in the Red Sea.

A senior Biden administration official told reporters late Tuesday that the Houthi militia will not be re-added to the ranks of groups designated by the State Department as Foreign Terrorist Organisations, but will instead receive the lesser designation, which automatically imposes a range of US sanctions on the group.

By contrast, a designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation makes it a crime for anyone to provide “material support” to the group, a category broad enough to potentially include humanitarian aid meant for the people of Yemen.

US to re-list Houthis as terrorist group amid Red Sea attacks

Houthi pirate who went viral for his looks says ‘this is not the time to talk about beauty’

Thursday 18 January 2024 03:24 , Maira Butt

A Houthi pirate dubbed “Timhouthi Chalamet” on X, formerly known as Twitter, has shot back at media coverage praising his looks saying: “This is not the time to talk about beauty.”

Rashid al-Haddad went viral for social media posts he recorded of himself on board a vessel as it circled a ship in the Red Sea.

Responding to a Newsweek article with the headline: “’Hot’ Houthi pirate becomes online sensation: ‘God you’re beautiful’” he replied:

“I did not talk about beauty or anything else, but our issue is Palestine, and this is not the time to talk about beauty. I hope that my message will reach you, a free Palestine, and we will ignite it against the Israeli aggression that violates human rights.”

US military conducts fresh strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen

Thursday 18 January 2024 02:56 , Maroosha Muzaffar

The US military carried out more strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen on Wednesday, the US Central Command said.

The military said that it “conducted strikes on 14 Iran-backed Houthi missiles that were loaded to be fired in Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen”.

It added: “These missiles on launch rails presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and US Navy ships in the region and could have been fired at any time prompting US forces to exercise their inherent right and obligation to defend themselves.”

It said the strikes and “other actions we have taken” would “degrade the Houthi’s capabilities to continue their reckless attacks on international and commercial shipping in the Red Sea, the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden”.

Mapped: How the US and UK attacks on Houthi rebels took place and what weapons were used?

Thursday 18 January 2024 02:30 , Maira Butt

After two months of continual Iran-backed Houthi attacks on commercial vessels, the US and the UK have launched more than 100 strikes against the militant group’s positions across western Yemen.

Huge explosions were seen in Yemeni cities including Sana’a and Hodeidah in the early hours of 12 January, with the US military saying 60 strikes were launched against 16 sites linked to the Houthis’ military operations.

Below, The Independent looks at how the attacks unfolded and what weapons were used in the strikes.

How did the US and UK attacks on Houthi rebels happen and what weapons were used?

Will the clash with the Houthi rebels lead to global conflict?

Thursday 18 January 2024 01:29 , Maira Butt

Kim Sengupta reports:

The airstrikes by the US and the UK came after repeated warnings to the Houthis that their attacks on Red Sea shipping would have severe consequences. These had no effect, and 27 vessels have been targeted by the militia in the last two months.

As a result, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes has become an area of extreme hazard. Global trade declined by 1.3 per cent from November to December. More than 30 per cent of the cargo was diverted around the South African coast, with prices soaring as a result. Freight costs from Asia to northern Europe and North America have more than doubled.

Will the clash with the Houthi rebels lead to global conflict?

Why are Britain and US attacking Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels?

Thursday 18 January 2024 00:21 , Tom Watling

The US and the UK have carried out military strikes with aircraft, ships and missiles against targets linked to the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The attacks came after the Houthis launched their largest attack yet on Red Sea shipping, one of 27 such assaults since 19 November.

Officials said that 21 missiles and drones were fired at warships and commercial vessels near the Bab al-Mandab Strait early last week, the southern bottleneck of the Red Sea, with US and UK warships blowing them out of the sky.

Read the full piece below.

Why are Britain and US attacking Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels?

In pictures: Houthi rebels say attacks on Israeli ships will continue as US designates them a terror group

Wednesday 17 January 2024 23:21 , Maira Butt

This handout picture taken on January 12, 2024 shows a fighter jet taking off from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) during flight operations in response to increased Iranian-backed Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea (US NAVY/AFP via Getty Images)
This handout picture taken on January 12, 2024 shows a fighter jet taking off from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) during flight operations in response to increased Iranian-backed Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea (US NAVY/AFP via Getty Images)
Sana'a University students stage a protest against US and UK attacks on Yemeni Houthis in Sanaa, Yemen (Anadolu via Getty Images)
Sana'a University students stage a protest against US and UK attacks on Yemeni Houthis in Sanaa, Yemen (Anadolu via Getty Images)
The bulk carrier, Lila II seen at sea on January 17, 2024 in Djibouti, Djibouti. (Getty Images)
The bulk carrier, Lila II seen at sea on January 17, 2024 in Djibouti, Djibouti. (Getty Images)

Pakistan warns of serious consequences after Iran missile attack kills two children

Wednesday 17 January 2024 22:21 , Maira Butt

Arpun Rai reports:

Pakistan has warned of serious conquences after a strike by Iran that killed two children. It is the third air strike on another country by Tehran this week after earlier attacks on targets in Iraq and Syria – further stoking fears of conflict spilling out across the Middle East.

Iranian state media confirmed missile strikes were carried out on targets in Pakistan, saying they hit two bases connected to the militant group Jaish al-Adl.

In a strongly-worded statement, Pakistan’s foreign office said the attack was an “illegal act” that could have “serious consequences”.

Pakistan warns of consequences after Iran airstrike kills two children

Iran foreign minister in Davos: Attacks on Israel will end if Gaza war stops

Wednesday 17 January 2024 21:26 , Maira Butt

Iran‘s foreign minister said on Wednesday that attacks against Israel and its interests by the “Axis of Resistance” will stop if the Gaza war ends, warning that the conflict could heighten tensions across the Middle East.

The Islamic Republic backs Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in its war with Israel, which has devastated Gaza in an aerial and ground offensive, and Tehran accuses the United States of backing what it calls Israeli crimes in Gaza.

“An end to the genocide in Gaza will lead to an end of military actions and crises in the region,” Amirabdollahian said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“The security of the Red Sea is tied to the developments in Gaza, and everyone will suffer if Israel’s crimes in Gaza do not stop ... All the (resistance) fronts will remain active.”

US President Joe Biden on Friday called Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi forces a “terrorist” group, after American and British warplanes, ships and submarines launched dozens of air strikes across Yemen overnight.

Yemen's Houthis say attacks on ships heading to Israel to continue despite US move

Wednesday 17 January 2024 20:21 , Maira Butt

The US designation of Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist group will not affect their operations to prevent Israeli ships or ships heading to Israel from crossing the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Bab al-Mandab Strait, Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam told Reuters on Wednesday.

The Biden administration on Wednesday returned the Iran-aligned Houthi militia to a list of terrorist groups, U.S. officials said, in the latest attempt by Washington to stem attacks by Houthi forces on international shipping in protest over Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

Iran may be striking out at nations around it – but it will be wary of wider war in the Middle East

Wednesday 17 January 2024 20:03 , Maira Butt

Kim Sengupta reports:

Direct military actions by Iran outside its border are rare despite often aggressive rhetoric to the contrary: this is because Tehran has built up a chain of proxy militias across the Middle East which can do the fighting on its behalf when necessary.

Thus the triple strikes carried out in the last few days by Iran on neighbouring countries Iraq, Syria and Pakistan are highly unusual and have led to heightened concern about bloody conflict spiralling across the region and beyond.

Two of the attacks, in Syria and Pakistan, were aimed, according to Tehran, at Sunni extremist groups which had carried out atrocities in Iran.

Read the full piece below.

Iran may be striking out at nations around it – but it will be wary of wider war

UKMTO receives report of incident 60 nautical miles southeast of Yemen's Aden

Wednesday 17 January 2024 19:21 , Maira Butt

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) organization said on Wednesday it has received a report of an incident 60 nautical miles southeast of Yemen’s Aden.

The master reported the “vessel has been hit on port side by an uncrewed aerial system,” UKMTO said in an advisory note.

“There was a fire onboard which has now been extinguished,” it added.

US vows new sanctions over Houthi attacks will minimise harm to needy in Yemen

Wednesday 17 January 2024 18:34 , Maira Butt

The US has put Yemen’s Houthis rebels back on its list of designated global terrorists, piling financial sanctions on top of military strikes in the Biden administration’s latest attempt to stop the militants’ attacks on global shipping.

Officials said they would design the financial penalties to minimise harm to Yemen’s 32 million people, who are among the world’s poorest and hungriest after years of war between the Iran-backed Houthis and a Saudi-led coalition.

But aid officials expressed concern, with Oxfam America associate director Scott Paul saying the decision will only add “another level of uncertainty and threat for Yemenis still caught in one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises”.

The sanctions that come with the formal designation are meant to sever violent extremist groups from their sources of financing.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

US national security adviser says stopping Houthi Red Sea attacks is an 'all hands on deck' problem

Wednesday 17 January 2024 17:30 , Tom Watling

A senior White House official said Tuesday that addressing the ongoing threat by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on commercial vessels in the Red Sea is an “all hands on deck” problem that the U.S. and allies must address together to minimize impact on the global economy.

“How long this goes on and how bad it gets comes down not just to the decisions of the countries in the coalition that took strikes last week,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said during an appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

US national security adviser says stopping Houthi Red Sea attacks is an 'all hands on deck' problem

US designates Yemen’s Houthis as specially designated global terrorists

Wednesday 17 January 2024 16:26 , Maira Butt

A US official said a new designation to classify Yemen’s Houthi rebels as specially designated global terrorists is aimed at cutting off the group’s funding and weapons.

The official said that Houthi attacks on US military forces and international maritime vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are the “textbook definition of terrorism”.

The designation will be reconsidered if the Houthis cease their Red Sea attacks.

A spokesperson for the Houthis said: “US designation will not affect our position, attacks on ships heading to Israel will continue.”

US launches new airstrikes against Houthis in Yemen targeting ‘anti-ship missiles’

Wednesday 17 January 2024 16:00 , Tom Watling

The US military carried out further airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen on Tuesday, targeting what it characterised as anti-ship ballistic missiles.

The action followed dozens of strikes against the Iran-backed rebels across Yemen in recent days as the US and UK seek to halt attacks by the group on cargo ships in the Red Sea, which were launched in response to Israel’s war in Gaza.

Two US officials told Reuters that Tuesday’s strikes were targeted at four anti-ship missiles.

US launches new airstrikes against Houthis in Yemen targeting ‘anti-ship missiles’

US military seizes Iranian missile parts bound for Houthi rebels in raid where 2 SEALs went missing

Wednesday 17 January 2024 15:32 , Tom Watling

U.S. Navy SEALs seized Iranian-made missile parts and other weaponry from a ship bound for Yemen‘s Houthi rebels in a raid last week that saw two of its commandos go missing, the U.S. military said Tuesday.

The raid marks the latest seizure by the U.S. Navy and its allies of weapon shipments bound for the rebels, who have launched a series of attacks now threatening global trade in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden over Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The seized missile components included types likely used in those attacks.

US military seizes Iranian missile parts bound for Houthi rebels in raid where 2 SEALs went missing

Qatar and France send medicine for hostages in Gaza as war rages on and regional tensions spike

Wednesday 17 January 2024 15:00 , Tom Watling

A shipment of medicine for dozens of hostages held by Hamas was en route to Gaza on Wednesday after France and Qatar mediated the first agreement between Israel and the militant group since a weeklong cease-fire broke down in November.

The medicines will be shipped through Egypt and delivered to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which will then hand them over to Hamas. Qatar said the deal also includes the delivery of additional medicine and humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave.

Qatar and France send medicine for hostages in Gaza as war rages on and regional tensions spike

Mapped: How the US and UK attacks on Houthi rebels took place and what weapons were used?

Wednesday 17 January 2024 14:30 , Tom Watling

After two months of continual Iran-backed Houthi attacks on commercial vessels, the US and the UK have launched more than 100 strikes against the militant group’s positions across western Yemen.

Huge explosions were seen in Yemeni cities including Sana’a and Hodeidah in the early hours of 12 January, with the US military saying 60 strikes were launched against 16 sites linked to the Houthis’ military operations.

Below, The Independent looks at how the attacks unfolded and what weapons were used in the strikes.

How did the US and UK attacks on Houthi rebels happen and what weapons were used?

Here are some more details on the Iran strikes on Pakistan

Wednesday 17 January 2024 14:00 , Tom Watling

Officials in Pakistan‘s southwestern province of Balochistan, which borders Iran, have said that four missiles had hit the Panjgur district close to the Iranian border on Tuesday.

“Four missiles were fired in the village of Koh-i-Sabaz which is around 50 km inside Pakistan soil,” a senior official of the Panjgur administration told Reuters.

“A mosque and three houses were damaged in the attack,” another official said, adding that two young girls had been killed and three other family members injured.

Two Navy SEALs lost at sea were on mission targeting Houthi weapons shipment, says Pentagon

Wednesday 17 January 2024 13:30 , Tom Watling

Two US Navy SEALs were lost at sea on a mission targeting Iranian weapons deliveries to Houthis in Yemen, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

The night-time mission ended with the seizure of a small sailing boat that was transporting “advanced lethal aid” to the Yemeni rebel group as part of its “campaign of attacks against international merchant shipping,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

The SEALs had been reported missing in the days following the mission, which took place on 11 January off the coast of Somalia, but its purpose had not been revealed. The two SEALs were still lost at sea as of Tuesday morning.

Two Navy SEALs lost at sea were on mission targeting Houthi weapons shipment

US national security adviser says stopping Houthi Red Sea attacks is an 'all hands on deck' problem

Wednesday 17 January 2024 12:45 , Tom Watling

A senior White House official said Tuesday that addressing the ongoing threat by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on commercial vessels in the Red Sea is an “all hands on deck” problem that the U.S. and allies must address together to minimize impact on the global economy.

“How long this goes on and how bad it gets comes down not just to the decisions of the countries in the coalition that took strikes last week,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said during an appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

US national security adviser says stopping Houthi Red Sea attacks is an 'all hands on deck' problem

Pope condemns Iran strike on Iraq, appeals against escalation

Wednesday 17 January 2024 12:00 , Tom Watling

Pope Francis has condemned the Iranian missile attack on the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, and urged all parties to avoid an escalation of conflicts in the Middle East.

The strike has deepened worries about worsening instability across the Middle East since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out on Oct. 7, with Iran’s allies also entering the fray from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

“I express my closeness and solidarity with the victims, all civilians, of the missile attack that hit an urban area of Erbil, the capital of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan,” Francis said during his weekly audience at the Vatican.

“Good relations between neighbours are not built with similar actions, but with dialogue and collaboration. I ask everyone to avoid any step that fuels tension in the Middle East and other war scenarios,” he added.

Francis called for prayers for the “many victims of war”, mentioning specifically Ukraine, Gaza and other Palestinian territory, and Israel.

Pope Francis has condemned the Iranian missile attack on the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq (AP)
Pope Francis has condemned the Iranian missile attack on the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq (AP)

Pakistan recalls ambassador from Iran, bars Iranian envoy from returning to post

Wednesday 17 January 2024 11:30 , Tom Watling

Pakistan has recalled its ambassador from Iran and the Iranian ambassador to Pakistan who is visiting Iran will not be allowed to come back, Pakistan‘s foreign ministry spokesperson has said.

Pakistan says ‘illegal’ Iranian missile attack on its soil killed two children

Wednesday 17 January 2024 11:08 , Tom Watling

Pakistan has accusedIran of an “illegal” airstrike on its soil, saying an Iranian missile strike on Balochistan on Tuesday killed two children and injured others.

Iranian state media confirmed missile strikes were carried out on targets in Pakistan, saying they hit two bases connected to the militant group Jaish al-Adl.

In a strongly-worded statement, Pakistan’s foreign office said the attack was an “illegal act” that could have “serious consequences”.

“Pakistan strongly condemns the unprovoked violation of its airspace by Iran and the strike inside Pakistani territory which resulted in the death of two innocent children while injuring three girls.

“This violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty is completely unacceptable and can have serious consequences,” Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson said in the early hours of Wednesday.

Pakistan says ‘illegal’ Iranian missile attack on its soil killed two children

Mapped: Iran launches strikes targeting Syria, Iraq and Pakistan

Wednesday 17 January 2024 10:09 , Tom Watling

Iran has launched strikes against several of its neighbours this week, inlcuding Syria, Iraq and Pakistan, as it claims it is targeting terrorist positions in retaliation to attacks on its own territory.

The attacks have drawn international condemnation, inlcuding from the US and the Pope. You can read more about the strikes here.

Below is a map detailing the locations of the strikes.

US launches new airstrikes against Houthis in Yemen targeting ‘anti-ship missiles’

Wednesday 17 January 2024 09:48 , Tom Watling

The US military carried out further airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen on Tuesday, targeting what it characterised as anti-ship ballistic missiles.

The action followed dozens of strikes against the Iran-backed rebels across Yemen in recent days as the US and UK seek to halt attacks by the group on cargo ships in the Red Sea, which were launched in response to Israel’s war in Gaza.

Two US officials told Reuters that Tuesday’s strikes were targeted at four anti-ship missiles.

US launches new airstrikes against Houthis in Yemen targeting ‘anti-ship missiles’

US to relist Yemen's Houthis as specially designated global terrorists

Wednesday 17 January 2024 09:17 , Tom Watling

The Biden administration is expected to soon announce plans to redesignate Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen as specially designated global terrorists, according to two people familiar with the White House decision and a US official.The move comes as the Houthis have launched dozens of attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea. The group says it has attacked the ships in response to Israel’s military operations in Gaza in the aftermath of Hamas’ 7 October attack on Israel.The three people familiar with the decision were not authorized to comment and requested anonymity to discuss the matter ahead of the expected formal announcement.Secretary of State Antony Blinken delisted the Houthis as both a foreign terrorist organization and as specially designated global terrorists in February 2021 as the administration sought to make it easier to get food imports and humanitarian aid into Yemen.In its waning days, the Trump administration designated the Houthis a foreign terrorist organization over the strong objections of human rights and humanitarian aid groups.The foreign terrorist designation barred Americans and people and organizations subject to US jurisdiction from providing “material support” to the Houthis, which the groups said would result in an even greater humanitarian catastrophe than what was already happening in Yemen.

Houthi fighters and tribesmen stage a rally against the US and the UK strikes on Houthi-run military sites near Sanaa, Yemen (AP)
Houthi fighters and tribesmen stage a rally against the US and the UK strikes on Houthi-run military sites near Sanaa, Yemen (AP)

Britain sets out plan to strengthen critical supply chains during Red Sea scare

Wednesday 17 January 2024 08:47 , Tom Watling

Britain will establish a body to identify risks to critical imports, the government has said, as it outlined a strategy to make supply chains more resilient against global shocks.

Renewed conflict in the Middle East, including the targeting of international shipping lanes by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi group, has threatened trade, and comes after war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic also challenged global supply chains.

Britain has sought to work closely with allies including the United States on securing supplies of critical minerals like lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and manganese, which are used in electric cars, smartphones and solar panels.

The government said the ‘Critical Imports and Supply Chains Strategy’ would help secure supplies of critical minerals, semiconductors and medicines by establishing a portal to let businesses report disruption quickly.

“With this strategy we’re equipping business so they no longer have to rely on unpredictable partners for supplies of the goods that keep our country going,” junior business minister Nusrat Ghani said in a statement.

The business ministry said it would establish a Critical Imports Council so government and business could work together to mitigate risks and plan supply chain resilience.

It added it would work to attract international investment to domestic projects, such as plans by British Lithium in partnership with France’s Imerys to mine Lithium in Cornwall, southwest England.

The government also said that supply chain considerations would be taken into account in negotiating future free trade deals with other countries.

British sailors fire Sea Viper missiles at Houthi drones from the HMS Diamond in the Red Sea (UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024)
British sailors fire Sea Viper missiles at Houthi drones from the HMS Diamond in the Red Sea (UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024)

Ambrey says container ship approached 10 miles southwest of Yemen's Dhubab

Wednesday 17 January 2024 08:24 , Tom Watling

British maritime security firm Ambrey said on Wednesday a Malta-flagged container ship reported being approached by three skiffs and one unmanned aerial vehicle 10 miles southwest of Yemen‘s Dhubab.

No damage or casualties were reported, the firm added in an advisory note.

US national security adviser says stopping Houthi Red Sea attacks is an 'all hands on deck' problem

Wednesday 17 January 2024 08:00 , Maroosha Muzaffar

A senior White House official said Tuesday that addressing the ongoing threat by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on commercial vessels in the Red Sea is an “all hands on deck” problem that the U.S. and allies must address together to minimize impact on the global economy.

“How long this goes on and how bad it gets comes down not just to the decisions of the countries in the coalition that took strikes last week,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said during an appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The Iran-backed Houthi group has launched dozens of attacks since November on vessels in the Red Sea, a vital corridor for the world’s shipping traffic, in what they say is an effort to support Palestinians in the war with Israel. U.S. and British forces have responded by carrying out dozens of air and sea strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen since Friday. The attacks by the Houthis have continued.

US national security adviser says stopping Houthi Red Sea attacks is an 'all hands on deck' problem

A timeline of the Houthi attacks that led to US and UK airstrikes

Wednesday 17 January 2024 07:30 , Maroosha Muzaffar

US and British forces launched airstrikes against dozens of targets across Yemen on January 11 in retaliation for months of attacks by the country’s Houthi movement on commercial and military vessels in the Red Sea.

Those attacks, launched by the Iran-backed group in response to Israel’s war in Gaza, have wrought havoc on international shipping and drawn the US and its allies into a regional conflict.

The Pentagon said 60 targets were hit using more than 150 precision-guided munitions.

The Houthis, led by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, are Shia rebels who have fought Yemen’s government for nearly two decades and have controlled most of the country for half of that time.

The group is part of a so-called “axis of resistance” led by Iran, and defined by its opposition to Israel and the US.

A timeline of the Houthi attacks that led to US and UK airstrikes

ICYMI: Iran strikes ‘militant bases’ in Pakistan

Wednesday 17 January 2024 07:00 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Iran has reportedly launched airstrikes on Balochistan in Pakistan, targeting the Sunni militant group Jaish al-Adl.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry condemned the “illegal” airstrike and claimed that two children were killed and three others injured.

Pakistan also summoned Tehran’s senior diplomat in Islamabad to protest against the “unprovoked violation of its airspace”.

Pakistan has become the third country after Iraq and Syria to be targeted by Iranian attacks in the past few days.

These attacks are seen as a part of a series of reprisals against Tehran’s perceived enemies, especially in the wake of a double suicide bombing in the city of Kerman on 3 January, in which more than 80 Iranians were killed.

Isis claimed responsibility for that attack. However, the Guardian reported that it was unclear if Iran believed that Jaish al-Adl was involved in the Kerman bombing.

The attack by Iran comes amid heightened tensions in the region amid Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.

Iran has stated that it does not want to get involved in the wider conflict but the groups in its “Axis of Resistance” – a network of autonomous militant Islamist groups – have been carrying out attacks on Israel and its allies.

Will the clash with the Houthi rebels lead to global conflict?

Wednesday 17 January 2024 06:30 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Would the US and the UK be prepared to put boots on the ground in Yemen (as Boris Johnson proposed)? Will a prolonged air campaign be enough to paralyse the Iran-backed Houthis? There are many difficult questions left to answer over the Middle East’s latest hotspot, warns Kim Sengupta:

Will the clash with the Houthi rebels lead to global conflict?

Biden administration to relist Houthis as global terrorists

Wednesday 17 January 2024 06:00 , Maroosha Muzaffar

The Biden administration is planning on redesignating Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen as specially designated global terrorists, the Associated Press reported.

In 2021, US secretary of state, Antony Blinken delisted the Houthis as both a foreign terrorist organisation and as specially designated global terrorists in February 2021 as the administration sought to make it easier to get food imports and humanitarian aid into Yemen.