Britain has joined the US in a fresh wave of strikes against Houthis in Yemen – with at least 36 targets blasted in the third set of attacks to ‘protect innocent lives’, Grant Shapps has said.
The UK said on Saturday it had engaged in another wave of ‘proportionate and targeted strikes’ against Iran-linked Houthi militants.
The attacks are meant to further disable Iran-backed groups that have relentlessly attacked American and international interests in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.
Defence Secretary Mr Shapps insisted the bombings are ‘not an escalation’ of the Red Sea crisis and claimed the latest strikes will have further degraded the Houthis’ capabilities.
‘The Houthis’ attacks on commercial and military vessels in the Red Sea are illegal and unacceptable and it is our duty to protect innocent lives and preserve freedom of navigation,’ he said.
‘That is why the Royal Air Force engaged in a third wave of proportionate and targeted strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen.
‘We acted alongside our US allies, with the support of many international partners, in self-defence and in accordance with international law.’
An RAF Typhoon aircraft is seen taking off to conduct further strikes against Houthi targets
An explosion is seen amid the fresh waves of attacks from the UK and US against Houthi targets
A Houthi trooper takes part in a military exercise at a remote area on the outskirts of Sana’a, Yemen today
An RAF Typhoon FRG4s being prepared to conduct further strikes against Houthi targets today
US Strikes in Yemen as part of ongoing international efforts to respond to increased Iranian-backed Houthi destabilizing and illegal activities in the re
The attacks are meant to further disable Iran-backed groups that have relentlessly attacked American and international interests
Britain said on Saturday it had engaged in another wave of ‘proportionate and targeted strikes’ against Iran-linked Houthi militants
An RAF Typhoon FGR4 gets ready to go to conduct further strikes against Houthi targets
He added: ‘This is not an escalation. We have already successfully targeted launchers and storage sites involved in Houthi attacks, and I am confident that our latest strikes have further degraded the Houthis’ capabilities.
‘Having recently met those British personnel stationed in the region, I know the dedication and professionalism with which they serve our nation’s armed forces and I would like to thank them for ensuring this operation was a success.’
Dramatic footage shows a large explosion among high rise buildings after the US said it had launched a series of strikes against targets in Yemen.
A dark sky is suddenly illuminated by a huge blaze that towers over the buildings as the US attempts to destabilise Houthis.
The additional strikes send a clear message to the Iran-backed militia, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.
‘These strikes are intended to further disrupt and degrade the capabilities of the Iranian-backed Houthi militia to conduct their reckless and destabilizing attacks against U.S. and international vessels lawfully transiting the Red Sea’ Austin said in a statement on Saturday afternoon.
‘Coalition forces targeted 13 locations associated with the Houthis’ deeply buried weapons storage facilities, missile systems and launchers, air defense systems, and radars’ he explained.
He added: ‘This collective action sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will continue to bear further consequences if they do not end their illegal attacks on international shipping and naval vessels.’
Officials said cruise missiles were launched in response to movements by an Iranian-backed rebel group preparing to strike more ships in the Red Sea, the day after the US also shot down at least eight drones in the region.
The latest strikes against the Houthis came the day after an air assault in Iraq and Syria that targeted other Iranian-backed groups and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
A satellite photo of a military base known as Tower 22, a Jordanian base targeted by a bomb-carrying drone that killed three U.S. soldiers. The damage can be seen in the center left of the photo
The strikes come in retaliation to the deaths of Spc. Kennedy Sanders, Sgt. William Jerome Rivers (center) and Spc. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett (right), who were killed by a drone strike Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024, on their base in Jordan near the Syrian border
It marks an escalation of the conflict, in retaliation for the drone strike that killed three U.S. troops in Jordan last weekend.
Officials told The Associated Press that the strikes were targeted on groups that have relentlessly attacked American and international interests in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.
The Houthi targets were in 10 different locations, and were struck by U.S. F/A-18 fighter jets from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier and by American warships firing Tomahawk missiles from the Red Sea, the U.S. officials said.
The latest strikes on Saturday come as the US Military expands its presence in the Middle East, opening up the possibility for further conflict as it now wages wars on two fronts.
Alongside targeting the Houthis’ shipment disruptions in Yemen, military leaders are also focused on Iranian proxies that continue to strike US bases in Iraq, Syria and Jordan.
It comes after an Iraqi militia official on Saturday hinted at a desire to deescalate tensions in the Middle East following the retaliatory strikes launched by the United States.
Hussein al-Mosawi, spokesperson for Harakat al-Nujaba, one of the main Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, told The Associated Press that Washington ‘must understand that every action elicits a reaction.’
While condemning the US’s actions, the military official added that ‘we do not wish to escalate or widen regional tensions.’
Mosawi said the targeted sites in Iraq were mainly ‘devoid of fighters and military personnel at the time of the attack.’
Syrian state media reported that there were casualties from the strikes, but did not give a number. Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that 23 people, all rank-and-file fighters, were killed.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden greet service members before boarding Air Force One, after attending a casualty return for the three servicemembers killed in the strike
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (left), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. CQ Brown and Marine Corp. Sgt. Maj. Troy E. Black watch as an Army carry team moves the flag-draped transfer case containing the remains of three servicemembers killed by an Iranian-backed strike
An Army carry team loads the transfer case containing the remains of the three military servicemembers, whose deaths have triggered several waves of retaliatory strikes
Iraqi government spokesperson Bassim al-Awadi said in a statement Saturday that the strikes in Iraq near the Syrian border killed 16, including civilians, and there was ‘significant damage’ to homes and private properties.
A U.S. official said Saturday that an initial battle damage assessment showed the U.S. had struck each of its planned targets, in addition to a few ‘dynamic targets’ that popped up as the mission unfolded.
These new targets included a surface-to-air missile site and drone launch sites. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide details that were not yet public, did not yet have a casualty assessment.
Iraq´s foreign ministry announced Saturday it would summon the U.S. embassy´s chargé d´affaires – the ambassador being outside of the country – to deliver a formal protest over U.S. strikes on ‘Iraqi military and civilian sites.’
The U.S. said Friday it had informed Iraq of the impending strikes before they started.
The air assault was the opening salvo of U.S. retaliation for a drone strike that killed three U.S. troops in Jordan last weekend. The U.S. has blamed that on the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of Iranian-backed militias.
Iran, meanwhile, has attempted to distance itself from the attack, saying that the militias act independently of its direction.
Iraqi spokesperson al-Awadi condemned the strikes as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, particularly since some of them targeted facilities of the Population Mobilization Forces.
US officials said they had informed Iraq of the impending strikes before they started Friday. Pictured is US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
The PMF, a coalition of Iranian-backed militias, was officially brought under the umbrella of the Iraqi armed forces after it joined the fight against the Islamic State in 2014, but in practice it continues to operate largely outside of state control.
The Popular Mobilization Forces said in a statement Saturday that one of the sites targeted was an official security headquarters of the group.
In addition to the 16 killed, it said 36 people had been wounded, ‘while the search is still ongoing for the bodies of a number of the missing.’
The Iraqi government has been in a delicate position since a group of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias calling itself Islamic Resistance in Iraq – many of whose members are also part of the PMF – began launching attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria on October 18.
The group described the strikes as retaliation for Washington’s support for Israel in the war in Gaza.
Behind the scenes, Iraqi officials have attempted to rein in the militias, while also condemning U.S. retaliatory strikes as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and calling for an exit of the 2,500 U.S. troops who are in the country as part of an international coalition to fight IS.
Last month, Iraqi and U.S. military officials launched formal talks to wind down the coalition’s presence, a process that will likely take years.
One of the main Iran-backed militias, Kataib Hezbollah, said it was suspending attacks on American troops following Sunday’s strike that killed the U.S. troops in Jordan, to avoid ’embarrassing’ the Iraqi government.
Meanwhile Saturday, the U.S. military´s Central Command acknowledged it had had a series of skirmishes in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden with Yemen´s Houthi rebels. On Friday, the USS Carney shot down a drone over the Gulf of Aden and there were no injuries or damage.
The U.S. also conducted airstrikes on four Houthi drones preparing to launch that it said ‘presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and the U.S. Navy ships in the region.’
On Saturday, Central Command said it struck six additional anti-ship cruise missiles that it said were prepared to launch and presented an imminent threat.
Overnight, F/A-18 fighter jets from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier, along with the USS Laboon, shot down seven drones in the Red Sea.