US warship downs incoming missile fired from Yemen

Houthis fire anti-ship ballistic missile toward Arleigh-Burke class destroyer USS Carney

By AFP

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The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney in the Middle East region. — AFP file
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney in the Middle East region. — AFP file

Published: Fri 26 Jan 2024, 9:13 PM

A US Navy warship on Friday shot down a missile that was fired at it by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who have carried out two months of attacks on international shipping, the military said.

US and British forces have launched two rounds of joint strikes aimed at reducing the Houthis' ability to target vessels transiting a key maritime trade route and Washington has also carried out a series of unilateral air raids, but the Houthis have vowed to continue their attacks.

"Iranian-backed Houthi militants fired one anti-ship ballistic missile from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen toward Arleigh-Burke class destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) in the Gulf of Aden," the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement.

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"The missile was successfully shot down by USS Carney. There were no injuries or damage reported," CENTCOM said.

Maritime monitoring agencies meanwhile said two missiles exploded in waters south of Yemen on Friday, though it was unclear if those reports were related to the incident announced by CENTCOM.

Risk monitor Ambrey said a Panama-flagged oil tanker "reported seeing two blasts" in the Gulf of Aden on Friday, a report that was corroborated by the British navy's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations. No damage was reported.

Ambrey said the missiles exploded about a mile from the India-affiliated oil tanker and 200-300 metres above the waterline. UKMTO said they detonated in the water.

"The target was unclear at the time of the report. There was no damage reported," Ambrey said, adding that vessels were calling for military assistance at the time.

There was no immediate comment on the latest incident from the Houthis, who began targeting Red Sea shipping in November, saying they were hitting Israeli-linked vessels in support of Palestinians in Gaza, which has been ravaged by the Israel-Hamas war.

They have since declared US and British interests to be legitimate targets as well.

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In addition to strikes targeting the Houthis, the United States is leading a coalition to protect Red Sea shipping — an effort the Pentagon has likened to a highway patrol for the waterway.

Washington is also seeking to put diplomatic and financial pressure on the Houthis, redesignating them as a terrorist organisation last week after previously having dropped that label soon after President Joe Biden took office.

The attacks by the rebels -- who are part of the anti-Israel, anti-West alliance of Iranian proxies and allies -- have disrupted trade in the Red Sea, which carries around 12 percent of international maritime traffic.

Several shipping firms have diverted from the Red Sea, instead taking the longer and more expensive route around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

This new pressure follows difficult years for the industry during the Covid-19 pandemic, when freight rates reached unprecedented levels due to blockages in supply chains.


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