Aircraft joins strikes against Houthis
Aircraft joins strikes against HouthisReuters

The US and UK launched air strikes on Houthi rebel targets in Yemen on Thursday night, according to reports in US media.

A US official confirmed the strikes to Bloomberg. The strikes were carried out using fighter jets and Tomahawks fired from Navy ships, reported NBC News.

Carla Babb, the Pentagon correspondent for Voice of America, reported that more than a dozen Houthi targets inside of Yemen were struck.

The fighter jets were striking "targets ranging from training facilities to drone storage facilities," Babb reported.

According to Arab media reports, explosions sounded in the Yemeni port city of Hodeida, as well as in the capital Sanaa and in other areas.

In a statement on the strikes, US President Joe Biden said, “Today, at my direction, US military forces—together with the United Kingdom and with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands—successfully conducted strikes against a number of targets in Yemen used by Houthi rebels to endanger freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most vital waterways.”

“These strikes are in direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks against international maritime vessels in the Red Sea—including the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles for the first time in history. These attacks have endangered U.S. personnel, civilian mariners, and our partners, jeopardized trade, and threatened freedom of navigation. More than 50 nations have been affected in 27 attacks on international commercial shipping. Crews from more than 20 countries have been threatened or taken hostage in acts of piracy. More than 2,000 ships have been forced to divert thousands of miles to avoid the Red Sea—which can cause weeks of delays in product shipping times. And on January 9, Houthis launched their largest attack to date—directly targeting American ships,” added Biden.

“The response of the international community to these reckless attacks has been united and resolute. Last month, the United States launched Operation Prosperity Guardian—a coalition of more than 20 nations committed to defending international shipping and deterring Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. We also joined more than 40 nations in condemning Houthi threats. Last week, together with 13 allies and partners, we issued an unequivocal warning that Houthi rebels would bear the consequences if their attacks did not cease. And yesterday, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding the Houthis end attacks on merchant and commercial vessels.”

“Today’s defensive action follows this extensive diplomatic campaign and Houthi rebels’ escalating attacks against commercial vessels. These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical commercial routes. I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary,” Biden made clear.

Earlier, The Times newspaper reported that Britain is expected to join the United States in carrying out overnight air strikes on military positions belonging to the Houthis in Yemen.

According to the report, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak briefed his cabinet of ministers on the imminent military intervention.

Sky News reported that Sunak was holding a full cabinet call which is thought to be about UK and US military strikes against the Houthi rebels.

The meeting started at 7:45 p.m. local time, with senior figures including Foreign Secretary David Cameron seen entering Downing Street, the report stated.

It came after an emergency COBRA meeting was held on Thursday morning, followed by a call between Sunak and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Downing Street said the leaders discussed "the concerning rise in Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea and the disruptive impact on global shipping, including through the Suez Canal".

"The prime minister said the UK would continue to take action to defend freedom of navigation and protect lives at sea," a spokesperson added.

The attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthis have increased since the start of the war in Gaza on October 7.

On Tuesday, the US and British armies shot down 21 drones and missiles fired by the Houthis towards the Red Sea, in what was one of the biggest attacks by the group to date.

Yahya Sare'e, the military spokesman for the Houthis, claimed last week that the group attacked a ship that refused the Houthis' orders to stop and was on its way to Israel.

22 nations recently agreed to participate in a US-led coalition to safeguard commercial traffic in the Red Sea from Houthi attacks.