US downs three Houthi drones, strikes anti-ship missiles


American forces have shot down three attack drones near commercial ships in the Red Sea and destroyed seven anti-ship cruise missiles positioned on land, the U.S. military said.

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis have been targeting shipping for months and their attacks have persisted despite repeated American and British strikes aimed at degrading the rebels' ability to threaten a vital global trade route.

Early on Friday, U.S. forces "shot down three Houthi one-way attack (drones) near several commercial ships operating in the Red Sea. There was no damage to any ships," the Central Command (CENTCOM) said on social media.

In a statement later in the day, CENTCOM said U.S. forces destroyed "seven Iranian-backed Houthi mobile anti-ship cruise missiles that were prepared to launch towards the Red Sea."

It said those strikes , carried out between 12:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Sanaa time, were made in self-defense.

"CENTCOM forces identified these missiles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined that they presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and to the U.S. Navy ships in the region," it said in a statement.

The day prior, American forces struck four Houthi drones as well as two anti-ship cruise missiles, CENTCOM said, adding that the weapons "were prepared to launch from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen towards the Red Sea."

The Houthis began attacking Red Sea shipping in November, saying they were hitting Israel-linked vessels in support of Palestinians in Gaza, which has been ravaged by the Israel-Hamas war.

U.S. and UK forces responded with strikes against the Houthis, who have since declared American and British interests to be legitimate targets as well.

Anger over Israel's devastating campaign in Gaza -- which began after an unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7 -- has grown across the Middle East, stoking violence involving Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

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