The US and Britain have launched a fresh wave of strikes against 36 Houthi targets in Yemen.
The further wave of assaults on 13 locations are designed to further disable Iran-backed groups that have attacked American and international interests in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war, according to US officials.
Launched by ships and fighter jets, these strikes on Yemen follow a US air assault on targets in Iraq and Syria on Friday.
That assault targeted other Tehran-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in retaliation for the drone strike on Jordan that killed three US troops last weekend.
US strikes on 10 Houthi targets involved F/A-18 fighter jets from the USS Dwight D Eisenhower aircraft carrier and American warships firing Tomahawk missiles from the Red Sea, US officials said.
According to officials, the USS Gravely and the USS Carney, both US navy destroyers, launched the missiles.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence said that RAF Typhoon FGR4s, supported by Voyager tankers, joined US forces in “further deliberate strikes against Houthi locations in Yemen”.
Saturday’s strikes marked the third time the US and Britain had conducted a large, joint operation to strike Houthi weapon launchers, radar sites and drones.
Washington had warned that its response after the soldiers’ deaths at the Tower 22 base in Jordan would not be limited to one night, one target or one group.
But the Houthis have been conducting almost daily missile and drone attacks against commercial and military ships transiting the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and they have made clear that they have no intention of scaling back their campaign.
US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that the military action, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand, “sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will continue to bear further consequences if they do not end their illegal attacks on international shipping and naval vessels”.
He added: “We will not hesitate to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways.”
UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said the move was “not an escalation” adding that: “The Houthis’ attacks on commercial and military vessels in the Red Sea are illegal and unacceptable and it is our duty to protect innocent lives and preserve freedom of navigation.
“That is why the Royal Air Force engaged in a third wave of proportionate and targeted strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen.
“We acted alongside our US allies, with the support of many international partners, in self-defence and in accordance with international law.”
The US defence department said the strikes targeted sites associated with the Houthis’ deeply buried weapons storage facilities, missile systems and launchers, air defence systems and radars.
On Friday, the US destroyer Laboon and F/A-18s from the Eisenhower shot down seven drones fired from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen into the Red Sea.
The same day, the destroyer Carney shot down a drone fired in the Gulf of Aden and US forces took out four more drones that were prepared to launch.
Hours before the latest joint operation, the US took another self-defence strike on a site in Yemen, destroying six anti-ship cruise missiles, as it has repeatedly when it has detected a missile or drone ready to launch.
Meanwhile, speaking to Sky News, the leader of an influential Iraqi militia group said it does “not accept or acquiesce to the violation of Iraqi sovereignty”.
Dr Firas al Yasser from the Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba group warned: “We have said it before in a clear and direct way, we don’t accept threats.
“At the moment, if any members of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq are targeted, or any jihadi or resistance fighter from any part of the resistance forces are targeted, there will be retaliation from us.”
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