Strikes against Houthis
Strikes against HouthisReuters

The US conducted a fourth round of strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen on Wednesday night after the Houthis continued targeting commercial vessels, a US official told CBS News.

The strikes targeted several sites that were prepared to launch attacks, the official said.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) later confirmed it struck 14 Houthi missiles that were ready to be fired.

“In the context of ongoing multi-national efforts to protect freedom of navigation and prevent attacks on U.S. and partner maritime traffic in the Red Sea, on Jan. 17 at approximately 11:59 p.m. (Sanaa time), U.S. Central Command forces conducted strikes on 14 Iran-backed Houthi missiles that were loaded to be fired in Houthi controlled areas in Yemen. These missiles on launch rails presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region and could have been fired at any time, prompting U.S. forces to exercise their inherent right and obligation to defend themselves. These strikes, along with other actions we have taken, will degrade the Houthi’s capabilities to continue their reckless attacks on international and commercial shipping in the Red Sea, the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden,” it said in a post on X.

“The actions by the Iranian-backed Houthi terrorists continue to endanger international mariners and disrupt the commercial shipping lanes in the Southern Red Sea and adjacent waterways,” said General Michael Erik Kurilla, USCENTCOM Commander. "We will continue to take actions to protect the lives of innocent mariners and we will always protect our people.”

The strikes came after the US army said that the Houthi rebels attacked a US-owned ship in the Gulf of Aden.

“At approximately 8:30 pm (Sanaa time) Jan. 17, an assessed one-way attack UAS was launched from Houthi controlled areas in Yemen and struck M/V Genco Picardy in the Gulf of Aden. M/V Genco Picardy is a Marshall Islands flagged, U.S. owned and operated bulk carrier ship,” US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement.

“There were no injuries and some damage reported. M/V Genco Picardy is seaworthy and continuing underway,” it added.

Earlier, Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, a military spokesman for the Houthis, said the rebels had targeted the Genco Picardy.

The Houthis “confirm that a response to the American and British attacks is inevitably coming, and that any new attack will not remain without response and punishment,” Saree said in a prerecorded video address, according to The Associated Press.

The Houthis have upped their attacks in the region since the October 7 Hamas attack against Israel.

US and British strikes targeted the Houthis last Thursday and Friday, after the Biden administration and its allies warned the Iran-backed group it would bear the consequences of its attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

Two days before the US and British strikes, the two 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.

On Sunday night, US fighter aircraft downed an anti-ship cruise missile fired at a US Navy destroyer from a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen, CENTCOM said.

On Monday, the Houthis claimed responsibility for an attack carried out on an American vessel in the Gulf of Aden.

Hours before Wednesday’s attack, the White House officially redesignated the Houthi rebel group as a terrorist organization, three years after removing the Houthis from the US list of designated terrorist organizations.