The US and UK have intensified their military campaign against the Houthi forces in Yemen, launching a second round of strikes on Saturday, a day after hitting dozens of targets across the country.
The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement that the “follow-on action” was aimed at “degrading the Houthi’s ability to attack maritime vessels” in the Red Sea, where the Houthis have launched several attacks on commercial and military ships in recent weeks.
The statement said that the US Navy destroyer USS Carney fired Tomahawk land attack missiles at a Houthi radar site, which was “involved in the planning and execution of attacks against international shipping”.
The strike was conducted in coordination with the UK and other allies, the statement added, without specifying which countries were involved.
The UK Ministry of Defense confirmed that it had participated in the strike, saying that it was “a necessary and proportionate response to the Houthi threat to international shipping”.
The strike came a day after the US and UK, along with Australia, Bahrain, Canada, France, the Netherlands and Spain, launched a coordinated attack on nearly 30 Houthi locations, including command and control facilities, weapons storage sites, air defense systems and drone launch pads.
The US and UK said that the strikes were in response to the “unprecedented” use of anti-ship ballistic missiles by the Houthis, which they said posed a serious threat to the freedom of navigation and the security of the region.
The strikes marked a major escalation of the involvement of the US and UK in the Yemeni civil war, which has been raging since 2014, when the Houthis, backed by Iran, seized control of the capital Sanaa and large parts of the country from the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, supported by a Saudi-led coalition.
The war has caused a humanitarian catastrophe, with more than 230,000 people killed, 4 million displaced and 80% of the population in need of aid, according to the UN.
The US and UK have been providing logistical and intelligence support to the Saudi-led coalition, as well as selling billions of dollars worth of weapons, despite accusations of war crimes and human rights violations by both sides.
The US and UK have also accused Iran of supplying the Houthis with weapons and training, a charge that Tehran denies.
The Houthis have condemned the US and UK strikes as “aggression” and “terrorism”, and vowed to retaliate.
In a statement, the Houthi military spokesman, Yahya Saree, said that the strikes had killed five civilians and injured six others, and claimed that the Houthis had shot down two drones and intercepted several missiles.
He also said that the strikes were “part of the US and UK support for the Israeli crimes in Gaza”, referring to the recent war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which the Houthis have expressed solidarity with.
He warned that the strikes would “not go unanswered and unpunished”, and that the Houthis would “continue to target the aggressors and their interests wherever they are”.
The Houthi leader, Abdulmalik al-Houthi, also addressed the strikes in a televised speech, saying that they were “a clear indication of the failure of the aggression and its allies”.
He said that the strikes were “a desperate attempt to cover up their defeats and failures in the battlefield and the political arena”.
He called on the Yemeni people to “stand united and steadfast in the face of this aggression”, and urged the international community to “stop this madness and aggression that only serves the interests of the US and Israel”.