US forces struck a Houthi drone base in Yemen in the early hours of Thursday morning after determining it presented an “imminent threat” to merchant and navy vessels in the region.
The Pentagon said in a statement that it had conducted strikes “against an Iranian-backed Houthi UAV ground control station and 10 Houthi one-way UAVs” at around 1.30am local time.
The strikes represent the latest in a series of US military actions against the Yemeni rebel group, which were launched in response to its attacks on ships in the Red Sea.
The Houthis have repeatedly attacked merchant and US navy ships in the region since November in retaliation for Israel’s war in Gaza, which is backed by the US.
The group’s spokesman said the attacks on vessels in one of the world’s busiest shipping routes would continue “until the aggression is stopped, and the siege is lifted on the people of Palestine in the Gaza Strip.”
The strikes come a day after the US said that one of its warships had shot down a Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile in the Gulf of Aden, which came within one mile of striking a US destroyer.
The US announced last month that it would reclassify the Houthis as a terrorist organisation, after president Joe Biden removed the group from the terror list in one of the first acts of his presidency.
Attacks by Houthis in the Red Sea marked a dramatic escalation in the region as a result of the fallout from Israel’s war in Gaza. The US has also been struck by more than 150 rockets and drones in Iraq and Syria since mid-October.
Hamas gunmen infiltrated Israel from Gaza on 7 October last year and killed around 1,300 people, mostly civilians,. The group took 250 people hostage in Gaza.
Israel launched a devastating war in response, killing more than 26,000 people — most of them women and children — and rendering much of the densely populated Gaza Strip uninhabitable.
Last month, the International Criminal Court determined that it was “plausible” that Israel has committed acts of genocide against the Palestinians.