US strikes Houthi fighters again amid continued attacks on ships off Yemen: Officials

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. has launched a new retaliatory strike against Houthi targets in Yemen amid the group’s continued attacks on international ships in the area, officials said Wednesday.

Five areas were targeted in the U.S. strikes on Yemen: the governorates of Hodeidah, Taiz, Dhamar, Bayda, and Saada, the Sanaa-Saba press agency, the Houthi state media claimed.

CENTCOM said in a post on X Wednesday night that the strike targeted 14 Iranian-made 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 U.S. Navy ships in the region and could have been fired at any time, prompting U.S. forces to exercise their inherent right and obligation to defend themselves,” the statement continued.

Tomahawk cruise missiles used in the strike were launched from both U.S. Navy surface ships and a submarine, U.S. officials said.

Houthi state media blamed the U.S. and the U.K. for the attacks. The U.S. is the only country to have acknowledged the strike.

Wednesday’s strike came after a drone from the Houthi-controlled area in Yemen hit a U.S.-flagged carrier ship in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday, U.S. Central Command previously confirmed.

No injuries were reported in that incident. The bulk carrier ship remains seaworthy although some damage has been reported, CENTCOM said.

In a statement late Wednesday night, the shipping company, Genco Shipping, confirmed the incident on its freighter, the M/V Genco Picardy as it transited through the Gulf of Aden. It was filled with a phospate rock cargo, the company said.

“All seafarers aboard the vessel are confirmed to be uninjured,” Genco said in a statement.

“An initial inspection by the crew indicates that damage to the vessel’s gangway is limited, and the vessel has remained stable and underway on a course out of the area,” the statement concluded.

The Company and vessel crew have remained in close contact with all relevant authorities.

As part of efforts to stop Iran-backed Houthi militants from attacking vital Middle Eastern shipping lanes, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday announced the U.S. would once again classify the Yemeni rebel group as a terrorist organization. The State Department says the step will enable the U.S. to more effectively restrict the group’s access to financial support.

Blinken said that the restrictions and penalties linked to the designation would not take effect for 30 days, and that the delay was designed to ensure the flow of aid and commercial goods to Yemeni civilians is minimally impacted.

“The Houthis must be held accountable for their actions, but it should not be at the expense of Yemeni civilians,” Blinken said in a statement. “As the Department of State moves forward with this designation, we are taking significant steps to mitigate any adverse impacts this designation may have on the people of Yemen.”

Blinken also made clear that the decision could be reversed if Houthis ended their assault on maritime traffic.

“If the Houthis cease their attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the United States will reevaluate this designation,” he said.

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