Middle East

US-UK coalition strike Iran-backed Houthi targets in Yemen after spate of ship attacks in Red Sea

Author: Bradford Betz Source: Fox News:
January 11, 2024 at 19:23
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images, FILE
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images, FILE

Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi militants have stepped up attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea in recent weeks

The United States and Britain carried out a series of air strikes on military locations belonging to Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen early Friday in response to the militant group'songoing attacks on vessels traveling through the Red Sea. 

Fox News is told there were attacks on more than a dozen Houthi targets by air, surface, and subsurface platforms. 

The strikes came shortly after the White House called a lid on President Biden's engagements for the evening as he was not expected to discuss the matter publicly. It also follows news that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had not notified the president of his whereabouts while he was in the ICU at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. 

In anticipation of the attack, Houthi forces transported some weapons and equipment and fortified others, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a U.S. defense official. Local reports indicated Houthi militants were evacuating the Red Sea city of Hodeidah. 

Map of Yemen
This is a locator map for Yemen with its capital, Sanaa.  (AP Photo)


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak briefed his cabinet of ministers late Thursday on the imminent military intervention. 

British media also reported that other political figures, including the leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, as well as the speaker of the House of Commons, had been briefed by the government.

HMS Diamond
A view shows HMS Diamond in the Red Sea on Operation Prosperity Guardian, in this handout image taken on January 6, 2024. (Lphot Chris Sellars/Handout via REUTERS)


White House national security spokesperson John Kirby called on the Houthis earlier Thursday to "stop these attacks," saying that the terrorist group would "bear the consequences for any failure to do so."

The joint strike came after Iranian forces seized an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman early Thursday morning. The seized vessel was in transit to Turkey when the Iranian naval forces boarded and seized the vessel, Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters. 

"The key for military action in Yemen is to respond in a way that does not lead to a never-ending tit-for-tat. That has been the administration’s approach in Syria and Iraq, and it has failed," said Richard Goldberg, a Senior Adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former National Security Council official told Fox News Digital in a statement. 

"The president needs to fundamentally change the calculus for Iran and its proxies. Has President Biden ordered the Houthis to be re-listed as a foreign terrorist organization? President Biden ordered the $10 billion for Iran to be frozen? Will any IRGC targets in Yemen, or Iran's intelligence cargo ship be targeted? These are all relevant questions that help inform what the policy is and whether deterrence will actually be restored." 


Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi militants have stepped up attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea in recent weeks in protest against Israel's war in Gaza. Various shipping lines have suspended operations, instead taking the longer journey around Africa.

Fourteen countries, including the U.S., issued a joint statement last week saying: "The Houthis will bear the responsibility for the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, or the free flow of commerce in the region's critical waterways." 

red sea attacks
The SKS Doyles crude oil tanker moves along the Suez Canal towards Ismailia in Suez, Egypt, on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023. (Stringer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


The U.S. military said the Houthis earlier on Thursday had staged their 27th attack on shipping since Nov. 19, firing an anti-ship ballistic missile into international shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden.

Earlier this week, U.S. and British naval forces shot down drones and missiles fired by the Houthis toward the southern Red Sea after the Royal Navy warship HMS Diamond was attacked. 


The Houthis, who seized much of Yemen in a civil war, have vowed to attack ships linked to Israel or bound for Israeli ports. However, many of the targeted ships have had no links to Israel.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

Fox News' Liz Friden and Reuters contributed to this report.

Bradford Betz is a Fox News Digital breaking reporter covering crime, political issues, and much more. 

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