The US military has carried out a series of airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen, in response to their attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Pentagon said the strikes were aimed at degrading the Houthis’ ability to launch missiles and drones that threaten civilian and military targets in the region.
The bombardment — launched in response to a recent campaign of drone and rocket attacks on commercial ships in the crucial Red Sea — killed at least five people and wounded six, the Houthis said.
“These strikes demonstrate our commitment to regional security and our partners in the Gulf,” said Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby in a statement. “We will continue to support Saudi Arabia and the UAE in their efforts to defend themselves against the Houthis’ aggression.”
The Houthis, who control most of northern Yemen, have stepped up their attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE in recent months, as the war in Yemen enters its seventh year. The rebels claim they are fighting against a Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing Yemen since 2015, in support of the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The US has been providing intelligence and logistical support to the coalition, but has also called for a political solution to end the conflict. President Joe Biden announced last year that he would end US support for offensive operations in Yemen, but reserved the right to defend US interests and allies in the region.
The Houthis have rejected several UN-backed peace initiatives, and have vowed to continue their attacks until the coalition lifts its blockade on Yemen. The blockade has caused a humanitarian crisis in the country, with millions of people facing famine and disease.
The latest US strikes come as the UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is trying to revive negotiations between the warring parties. He said he was “deeply concerned” by the escalation of violence, and urged both sides to “engage constructively” with his efforts.
“The only way to end this war is through a peaceful, negotiated settlement,” he said. “I call on all parties to cease hostilities and to put the interests of the Yemeni people first.”