US Navy intercepts Yemen drones, missiles in 10-hour Red Sea barrage

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By Carina

Amid escalating tensions in the southern Red Sea, the U.S. military successfully intercepted a sustained barrage of drones and missiles allegedly launched by Houthi rebels on December 26. 

U.S. Central Command (Centcom) revealed that over a 10-hour period, American forces neutralized 12 drones, three anti-ship ballistic missiles, and two land attack cruise missiles reportedly fired by Iran-aligned Houthis toward ships in the strategic region.

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Swift response by U.S. forces to prolonged assault 

Centcom shared the incident on X, emphasizing the involvement of assets like the USS LABOON and F/A-18 Super Hornets from the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. 

The missiles were intercepted around 6:30 a.m. (Sanaa time), averting any damage to ships or reported injuries despite the prolonged assault.

This event marks the latest in a series of Houthi attacks on vessels navigating crucial shipping lanes in the Red Sea, adding to a string of similar incidents throughout the month. 

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Houthi rebels remain silent about recent attacks 

The rebels, aligning themselves with Iran, have also claimed responsibility for launching ballistic missiles and one-way drones toward Israel following Hamas’s surprise assault on the country in October.

While Yemen’s Houthi rebels have not officially commented on the recent attack, they did claim responsibility for a separate strike on an MSC United Commercial ship on the same day. 

The attack targeted a vessel owned by MSC Mediterranean Shipping en route from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan.

Response from Mediterranean shipping company

Yahya Saree, a spokesman for Houthi forces, asserted that the attack on the MSC United resulted from ignored warning messages to the ship’s crew. 

The spokesperson affirmed the Houthi forces’ support for the Palestinian people and justified their actions as a religious, moral, and humanitarian duty.

In response, the Mediterranean Shipping Company confirmed the attack on December 26, reassuring that all crew members were safe with no reported injuries. 

Prioritizing the safety of seafarers, the company announced a rerouting strategy for vessels scheduled for Suez transit via the Cape of Good Hope.

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Continued attacks and alleged humanitarian efforts

Saree also reported additional drone and missile attacks on the Umm al-Rashrash area (Eilat) on the same day. 

The Houthi forces expressed their commitment to ongoing operations in the Red and Arab Bahrain, specifically targeting Israeli ships or those heading to Israeli ports. 

Saree claimed these actions were part of an alleged effort to ensure humanitarian aid reaches the Gaza Strip.

Global coalition to safeguard commercial  shipping operations 

The recent incidents prompted the formation of a joint task force named “Operation Prosperity Guardian.” 

Comprising nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles, and Spain, this coalition aims to safeguard commercial shipping operations in the Red Sea.

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Acknowledging the significance of the Red Sea in global shipping, the Pentagon highlighted the detrimental effects of Houthi attacks on trade and commerce. 

Major General Pat Ryder, speaking at a December 21 news conference, emphasized the defensive nature of the coalition, reassuring global shipping and mariners of international support for safe passage.

US affirms coalition commitment for Red Sea security

Major General Ryder affirmed the United States’ commitment to collaboration within the coalition, allowing nations to contribute military assets based on their capabilities. 

The joint initiative seeks to address the economic impact on nations worldwide and mitigate the substantial financial losses incurred by commercial shipping firms.

The Red Sea remains a focal point of geopolitical tension, with ongoing efforts to secure vital waterways and ensure the unimpeded flow of global trade. 

The newly formed coalition reflects a concerted international response to protect maritime interests in the face of escalating threats.

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