March 4, 2024

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US strikes Houthi targets in Yemen

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Middle EastThe US and its allies are attacking Houthi targets in Yemen

First comprehensive airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. Now another military operation against Houthi targets in Yemen: the US and its partners are applying pressure against pro-Iranian militias.

  • The US is attacking the Houthis in Yemen.

  • Positions in Syria and Iraq were previously targeted.

  • The Houthis, for their part, have repeatedly attacked merchant ships in the Red Sea.

A day after US airstrikes against pro-Iranian militias In Iraq and Syria US and British forces have jointly shelled Houthi positions in Yemen. The US Department of Defense announced in Washington on Saturday evening (local time) that 36 targets of Iran-backed Houthi militias had been struck in 13 locations in Yemen, with the help of other countries. This is the third joint British-US military operation against the Houthis in recent weeks. It follows a comprehensive US response against militants in Iraq and Syria the night before. The rapid succession of military operations shows US efforts to end the growing chaos in the Middle East.

Since the start of the Gaza war between Israel and the Islamic terrorist group Hamas, the Houthis have repeatedly targeted merchant ships in the Red Sea. The militants operate in solidarity with Hamas and are targeting cargo off the coast of Yemen with alleged Israeli links. Given the risks, major shipping companies are increasingly avoiding the narrow sea route between Asia and Europe via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. It has now had a significant impact on the global economy.

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Operation against the Houthis

Besides the United States and Great Britain, Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands supported the campaign. The declared goal of the United States and its partners is to weaken the military capabilities of the militant Islamist Houthis and protect the vital shipping lane.

A joint statement by the countries concerned said targets struck in Yemen included weapons depots, missile systems, missiles and air defense systems. Houthi attacks on commercial and naval vessels are an international challenge.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a written statement: “This joint operation sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will face further consequences if they do not stop their illegal attacks on international shipping and naval vessels.” He stressed: “We will not hesitate to protect the free flow of life and commerce on one of the world's most important waterways.”

British Defense Secretary Grand Shabbs said the military action did not escalate the situation. Rather, innocent lives must be protected and freedom of navigation in the Red Sea protected. A British Ministry of Defense statement said the evening airstrikes were carefully planned to keep the risk of civilian casualties as low as possible.

The Houthis have reiterated that they will continue their attacks in the region, as they have done in previous US strikes against targets in Yemen. The bombings “will not change our position,” said Mohammed al-Buqaidi, a member of the politburo of the militant Houthi movement. “We will respond to escalation with escalation.”

Retaliation in Iraq and Syria

The operation against the Houthis followed a major US military offensive the previous day. On Saturday night, the US military launched extensive airstrikes against pro-Iranian militant positions in Iraq and Syria. US forces carried out aerial bombardment of more than 85 targets in seven locations in both countries, including command centers, intelligence bases and weapons depots used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and allied militias. The US was reacting to a deadly attack by pro-Iranian militias days before in Jordan, near the Syrian border, that killed three US soldiers.

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US President Joe Biden has vowed to retaliate for the deaths of American soldiers and made it clear after Saturday night's airstrikes that this was just the beginning and further military action would follow. At the same time, Biden emphasized that the United States does not want a new conflict in the Middle East.

Since the Gaza war began, Iranian-backed militias have launched almost daily attacks on US military bases in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. government has already responded to airstrikes in both countries — albeit on a smaller scale than this weekend's coordinated operation.

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(DPA/dmo)