U.S. launches fourth round of strikes in a week against Houthi targets in Yemen

The U.S. conducted its fourth round of strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen in just under a week on Wednesday after the Houthis continued targeting commercial vessels, a U.S. official confirmed to CBS News. The strikes targeted several sites that were prepared to launch attacks, according to the official. 

Initial reports of the strikes appeared in local sources on social media. 

The strikes targeted “14 Iran-backed Houthi missiles that were loaded to be fired in Houthi controlled areas in Yemen,” U.S. Central Command said in a statement Wednesday night. “These missiles on launch rails presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region and could have been fired at any time,” CENTCOM added.

The Houthis hit a U.S. owned and operated commercial vessel Wednesday, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command. There was some damage reported but no injuries. 

It was the latest in a series of attacks the Houthis have launched at commercial vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November 19. The attack Wednesday and another on Monday targeted U.S. owned ships, apparently in defiance of the U.S. led strikes conducted last Thursday and an additional two rounds of strikes the U.S. has conducted since then. 

The U.S. and U.K. with support from other nations conducted the initial strikes last week, targeting just under 30 locations and using over 150 different types of munitions. 

The U.S. has unilaterally launched two more rounds of strikes — one early Saturday morning in Yemen against a Houthi radar site and another round Tuesday destroying four anti-ship ballistic missiles that were “prepared to launch,” according to a statement from U.S. Central Command. 

Despite these strikes, the Houthis have promised to continue their attacks in the vital waterway. The Houthis, who are funded and equipped by Iran, have said the attacks are to protest Israel’s war in Gaza, but many of the ships they’ve targeted have no connection to Israel or its war, U.S. officials have said. 

Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, when asked Wednesday if the U.S. led strikes were ineffective considering the Houthis have continued to attack, said the Pentagon believes the strikes have “degraded” the Houthis’ ability to attack.

“Clearly they maintained some capability and we anticipated that after any action, there would likely be some retaliatory strikes,” Ryder said. 

The Biden administration has tried to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from spreading into a wider conflict, but since that war began, there has been a steady drumbeat of attacks against U.S. forces by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria along with the Houthi attacks on commercial ships.

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