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The U.S. Navy Arleigh-burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney intercepted attack missiles fired by Houthi rebels from Yemen Alamy Stock Photo

US to reclassify Houthis as 'specially designated terrorists'

The United States has carried out strikes against the Houthis in Yemen.

THE US WILL once again consider Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels a terrorist group after previously dropping the classification in 2021.

The designation, expected to be confirmed today, of the Houthis as a “specially designated global terrorist” entity comes amid attacks by the group on shipping and military vessels in the Red Sea.

Yesterday, the US military said it struck Yemen to destroy four anti-ship missiles “prepared to launch from Houthi-controlled areas,” and which “presented an imminent threat to both merchant and US Navy ships in the region.”

It is at least the third time in less than a week that the United States has carried out strikes against the Houthis, who have repeatedly taken aim at merchant vessels in the vital Red Sea shipping lane — attacks the rebels say are in support of Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel is battling militant group Hamas.

The US military also said that the Houthis launched an anti-ship ballistic missile into international shipping lanes yesterday and that a Maltese-flagged bulk carrier reported that it was hit but remained seaworthy.

The United States and Britain targeted nearly 30 sites in Yemen with more than 150 munitions last week, while American forces later attacked a Huthi radar site in what was described as “a follow-on action” related to the previous strikes.

The United States set up a multinational naval task force last month to protect Red Sea shipping from the Houthis, who are endangering a transit route that carries up to 12 percent of global trade.

The Houthis say they have been targeting Israeli-linked vessels, but Washington says dozens of countries have connections to ships that have been attacked.

Washington had previously designated the Houthis as a terrorist group in January 2021, in the waning days of the Donald Trump administration — a move that was reversed the following month by President Joe Biden.

The original designation caused outcry from those who said it would complicate the humanitarian response in the country, battered by civil war and much of which is controlled by the Houthis.

The unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October, which kicked off the latest round of fighting in Gaza, resulted in about 1,140 deaths, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

At least 24,285 Palestinians, about 70 percent of them women and children, have been killed in Gaza in Israeli bombardments and ground operations since then, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

© AFP 2024