Houthi attack: US officials say crew members were killed for the first time in an attack on a commercial ship near Yemen

Dario Bonazza – Reuters – archive

This photo from 2022 shows the bulk carrier True Confidence in Ravenna, Italy.



CNN

Two US officials told CNN that a Houthi missile attack on a commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden killed at least two crew members, marking the first time the ship had been attacked. An armed group supported by Iran It killed anyone as part of its constant attacks on ships crossing the Red Sea.

Officials said the attack hit the M/V True Confidence, a Liberian-owned and Barbados-flagged bulk carrier. The ship has since been abandoned, and coalition warships are now in the area to assess the situation, officials said. One of the officials said that at least six other crew members were injured.

One official said the attack occurred around 11:30 a.m. Sanaa time, or around 3:30 a.m. Eastern time. The raid represents a major escalation of Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea, which began in October in response to the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The Houthis said in a statement that the strike was “accurate” and caused a fire to break out on the ship.

A Houthi statement about the attack said, “The targeting operation came after the ship’s crew rejected warning messages from the Yemeni naval forces.”

The Houthi statement renewed the group's support for the Palestinian people, and said that they would not stop attacks in the Red Sea until “the Israeli aggression stops and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted.”

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The British embassy in Sanaa said at least two “innocent sailors” had died in the attack in a message to X.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Wednesday that the deaths were “sadly inevitable.”

Miller said in a press conference at the ministry: “The Houthis continued to launch these reckless attacks without any regard for the safety of innocent civilians crossing the Red Sea, and now they have unfortunately and tragically killed innocent civilians.”

He added: “The United States will continue to hold the Houthis accountable for their attacks, which not only disrupted international trade, not only disrupted freedom of navigation and international waters, not only endangered sailors, but have now tragically killed a number of them.” He said.

The Houthis have launched more than 45 missile and drone attacks against commercial naval vessels, US and coalition forces operating in the Red Sea, according to US and Western officials, most of which were intercepted by US or coalition destroyers or landed in the waters without causing any damage.

So far, no military ships have been affected by Houthi drones or missiles, according to Defense Department spokesman Major Pete Nguyen. But more than a dozen commercial ships, including several American ships, have been hit since October, Nguyen said.

The US and UK have also carried out four rounds of strikes against Houthi targets inside Yemen since January, striking targets including weapons storage facilities, missile storage facilities, one-way attack unmanned aerial systems, air defense systems, radars, and helicopters used by Houthis. The Houthis. Rebels.

US Central Command forces also regularly launched dynamic strikes against Houthi missiles that were preparing to launch from inside Yemen.

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It was the Biden administration Struggling to stop the attacksHowever, the group continues to fortify its weapons stockpile inside Yemen, CNN previously reported.

Several officials told CNN that the US still does not have a “denominator” that would allow it to assess what percentage of Houthi equipment the US and UK have actually destroyed in airstrikes, and it is not clear whether the US will change its military approach further. .

“We know that the Houthis maintain a large arsenal,” Pentagon deputy spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said last week, hours after the Houthis hit another cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden with ballistic missiles. “They are very capable, and they have advanced weapons, because they continue to get them from Iran.”

“They continue to surprise us,” one senior defense official said, referring to the Houthis. “We don't have a good idea what they still have.”

Despite the strong presence of US and coalition forces in the Red Sea, which includes the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and several US destroyers, Houthi attacks have caused a significant decline in the number of ships passing through the Suez Canal.

The corridor connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, allowing ships to cut thousands of miles of shipping routes instead of sailing around Africa. In the first half of February, the Suez Canal saw a 42% drop in monthly transit and an 82% drop in container tonnage from its peak in 2023, according to the United Nations.

CNN's Jennifer Hansler, Mustafa Salem and Sharon Braithwaite contributed reporting.

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