US strikes Houthi targets again, officials say, as Biden vows attacks will continue

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. conducted another strike Thursday against Houthi targets, U.S. Central Command said, as President Joe Biden vowed they will continue as the militant group keeps up attacks against ships in the Red Sea.

The strike targeted two anti-ship missiles that were aimed into the Southern Red Sea and were prepared to launch, CENTOM said, saying they posed “an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region.”

It is the fifth time the U.S. has struck Houthi fighters in the past week.

President Biden earlier Thursday said the strikes will continue, though he admitted they’ve not yet deterred the group from attacking vessels in the Red Sea.

Departing the White House for an event in North Carolina, Biden was asked by a reporter if the strikes against the Iran-backed rebel group are working.

“Well, when you say working, are they stopping the Houthis? No,” the president responded. “Are they going to continue? Yes.”

In fact, late Thursday, CENTCOM confirmed another attack. The Houthis launched two missiles at the M/V Chem Ranger vessel, but both missiles missed the ship and landed in the water, CENTCOM said. The Chem Ranger is a Marshall Islands-flagged, U.S.-owned, Greek-operated tanker ship. CENTCOM calls the attack late Thursday as the third Houthi terrorist attack on a commercial vessel in three days.

The retaliatory strikes started on Jan. 11, when the U.S. led a coalition with the United Kingdom and other partners to launch large-scale airstrikes against multiple Houthi targets in Yemen.

The Houthis vowed to retaliate, and on Monday struck a U.S.-owned and operated commercial ship. The ship reported no injuries or significant damage.

In addition to the strikes, the U.S. this week announced it was redesignating the Houthis as a global terror group. The designation will go into effect in 30 days, a delay the administration is hoping will minimize the impact on the flow of aid and commercial goods to Yemeni civilians.

“This designation seeks to promote accountability for the group’s terrorist activities,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “If the Houthis cease their attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the United States will reevaluate this designation.”

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