Houthi terrorists
Houthi terroristsREUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

The US has rejected claims by Yemen’s Houthi rebels that detained local US mission staff in Yemen are part of an “American-Israeli spy network”, CNN reported.

“Yet again the Houthis are seeking to use disinformation to shift blame to the United States and other outside actors for their own failures,” US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement quoted by CNN.

Earlier this week, the Houthis claimed they had arrested members of an “American-Israeli spy network”, claiming the spy network had first operated out of the US Embassy in Sanaa. Then after it was closed in 2015 following the Houthi takeover of the capital Sanaa and northern Yemen, they continued “their subversive agenda under the cover of international and UN organizations,” claimed the rebels.

Videos of alleged confessions by these personnel were uploaded to Al-Masirah TV. Miller condemned the videos, calling them “efforts to spread disinformation regarding the role of detained current and former US mission local staff through televised forced and fake ‘confessions.’”

“These Houthi actions reflect a blatant disregard for the dignity of the Yemeni people and individuals who – contrary to the Houthis’ lies – have dedicated themselves to their country’s betterment. Their efforts stand in stark contrast to the actions of the Houthis who have held them without justification for more than two-and-a-half years,” he said of the long-detained locally employed staffers. “Their detention, and that of the UN staff, is an affront to diplomatic norms, and they should be released immediately. We will not rest until they are.”

The arrests come as the Houthis continue their attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, which they have increased since the start of the war in Gaza, as well as firing rockets in the direction of Israel.

In the wake of the uptick in Houthi attacks, the US formed a coalition, made up of more than 20 countries, aimed at safeguarding commercial traffic in the Red Sea from attacks by the Houthis.

In mid-January, with support from other countries, the US and Britain targeted just under 30 Houthi locations with 150 different weapons. They have since carried out several rounds of strikes against Houthi targets.

The Houthis have been unfazed by the strikes, saying that the campaign against the "Zionist enemy" will continue and that the attacks against the American and British ships will not stop.

Last Wednesday, the Houthis published a video showing what they claimed was a Palestine-type ballistic missile that was launched towards Eilat this week and which was intercepted by the Arrow system.

A day later, the leader of the group, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, threatened to intensify the Houthis’ operations against Israel, carried out with the group Islamic Resistance in Iraq.