US, UK air strikes on Yemen kill 14

US, UK air strikes on Yemen kill 14
Joint British-US airstrikes targeting Yemen's Houthi rebels killed at least 16 people and wounded 35 others, the Houthis said Friday.
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Aerial view of traditional mud-brick buildings in Sanaa, Sanaa, Sanaa Governorate, Yemen [Getty]

The United States and Britain carried out air strikes on Yemen in what they said was a bid to degrade Iran-backed rebels' maritime attack capabilities, with Houthi media on Friday reporting 14 killed.

This is the highest publicly acknowledged death toll by the rebels from the multiple rounds of strikes carried out over their attacks on shipping.

The Houthis have been attacking shipping around the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November, citing solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, where Israel has been at war in the devastated territory since October 7.

According to French news agency AFP, loud explosions were heard in the capital Sanaa and the port city of Hodeida overnight from Thursday to Friday.

The Houthi-controlled Al-Masirah television channel said 14 people were killed and more than 30 were wounded in the strikes that also targeted telecoms infrastructure in the town of Taez.

It was not immediately possible to independently verify the toll.

The British defence ministry said its planes launched strikes in "a joint operation with US forces against Huthi military facilities to degrade their ability to persist with their attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden".

The ministry said intelligence indicated two sites near Hodeida had been involved in the attacks on shipping, "with a number of buildings identified as housing drone ground control facilities and providing storage for very long-range drones, as well as surface to air weapons".

Further south, another site "had also been identified as being involved in the command and control of their anti-shipping campaign", it said in a statement.

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement that a total of 13 Houthi-held sites were targeted, adding the strikes were "necessary to protect our forces, ensure freedom of navigation, and make international waters safer and more secure".

Ships hit

Since January, the United States and Britain have launched retaliatory strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen in response to the rebels' attacks in the vital waterways.

But the strikes have done little to deter the Houthis, who have vowed to target US and British vessels as well as all ships heading to Israeli ports.

The Iran-backed Houthis said Wednesday that they had attacked a Greek-owned bulk carrier and several other vessels in response to Israeli strikes on the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.

The bulk carrier Laax, a Marshall Islands-flagged and Greek-operated vessel, reported being hit by three missiles, according to CENTCOM and maritime security firms. The vessel was damaged but able to continue its voyage.

In March, a ship loaded with fertiliser sank in the Gulf of Aden after it was damaged by missiles fired by the Houthis.

And in November, the rebels seized the vehicle transporter Galaxy Leader and its crew in a helicopter-borne attack.

The Houthi attacks have prompted some shipping companies to detour around southern Africa to avoid the Red Sea route, which normally carries about 12 percent of global trade.