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U.S. Hits More Houthi Targets in Yemen as Biden’s Middle East Response Expands

U.S. Hits More Houthi Targets in Yemen as Biden’s Middle East Response Expands

The U.S. military on Saturday attacked sites in Yemen with six Houthi anti-ship cruise missiles that it said were preparing to attack shipping lanes in the Red Sea.

“U.S. forces identified the cruise missiles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined they presented an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region,” U.S. Central Command said in a statement Saturday.

The U.S. and U.K. also conducted strikes against 36 Houthi targets across 13 locations, aiming at an underground weapons storage facility, air defense systems, and radars, the countries announced in a joint statement Saturday.

The operations are just the latest in recent days the United States and allies have carried out in an effort to dampen the Iranian-backed rebels’ ability to carry out attacks against ships in the Red Sea.

It comes as the Biden Administration has been stepping up its efforts to respond to attacks on shipping and U.S. forces in the Middle East—the U.S. military launched strikes against over 85 Iran-linked targets in Iraq and Syria on Friday in retaliation for a deadly attack that killed three U.S. troops.

The Houthis have been attacking in the Red Sea, vowing to stop only if Israel stops the war in Gaza, following the Hamas Oct. 7 attacks. The attacks in the Red Sea have disrupted global shipping networks, and the Biden Administration has vowed to respond to the attacks to try to halt them.

But concerns have been bubbling up over whether the Biden Administration’s approach to the Houthis is actually having any discernible effects on their ability and willingness to attack. Although the United States and other allied governments have sought to strike Houthi targets in Yemen, attacks from the Houthis continue.

On Friday, the U.S. military had to shoot down a Houthi drone in the Gulf of Aden and seven over the Red Sea, CENTCOM announced.

President Joe Biden has previously noted that the strategy is not working, telling reporters it wasn’t going well.

“Are they stopping the Houthis? No,” Biden said last month.

When asked this week about the strategy, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin deflected, acknowledging that Houthi attacks are still continuing despite the military’s attacks aimed to deter them.

“Yeah, the Houthis continue to do some things that are very irresponsible and illegal,” Austin told reporters Thursday in a rare press conference at the Pentagon. Austin called on Iran to stop backing the Houthis.

“The Houthis—I mean, their activity needs to come to a halt and we would call upon Iran to… quit or to cease supplying the Houthis with these advanced conventional weapons that they’ve used to attack ships in the Red Sea and the Bab-al-Mandab,” Austin said.

U.S. efforts to prevent the Houthis from obtaining weapons in the first place in some cases have been treacherous. In a mission last month to intercept weapons destined for the Houthis, two U.S. Navy SEALs perished while trying to seize weapons from a vessel transporting the weapons.

The military was able to interrupt the Iranian shipment, though. It included propulsion, guidance, and warheads for Houthi ballistic missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles, CENTCOM said.

Some lawmakers and experts have urged the Biden Administration to consider targeting inside Iran directly to prevent attacks, recommendations the Biden administration has so far not followed. U.S. officials have repeatedly stated the United States is not seeking war with Iran.

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