The US and UK militaries launched strikes against multiple Houthi targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen on Thursday, marking a significant response after the Biden administration and its allies warned that the Iran-backed militant group would bear the consequences of repeated drone and missile attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea.
President Joe Biden said he ordered the strikes “in direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks against international maritime vessels in the Red Sea.” Biden added that he will “not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary.”
A statement from US Air Forces Central Commander Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich said US and coalition forces “executed deliberate strikes on over 60 targets at 16 Iranian-backed Houthi militant locations, including command and control nodes, munitions depots, launching systems, production facilities, and air defence radar systems.
More than 100 precision-guided munitions “of various types” were used.
For weeks, the US had sought to avoid direct strikes on Yemen because of the risk of escalation in a region already simmering with tension as the Israel-Hamas war continues, but the ongoing Houthi attacks on international shipping compelled the coalition to act.
Though the US has carried out strikes against Iranian proxies in Iraq and Syria since the outbreak of the war in Gaza, this marks the first known strike against the Houthis in Yemen.
More than a dozen Houthi targets were fired upon by missiles fired from air, surface, and sub-platforms and were chosen for their ability to degrade the Houthi’s continued attacks on vessels in the Red Sea.
They included radar systems, drone storage and launch sites, ballistic missile storage and launch sites, and cruise missile storage and launch sites.
A senior military official told reporters on Thursday evening that he could not provide an exact percentage of Houthi assets that were destroyed in the strikes but that it was “significant.” He added that precision-guided munitions were used to destroy the targets “and also to minimize collateral damage.”
The Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping on Tuesday marked the final straw that culminated in Biden giving the green light for the US to move forward with Thursday’s strikes, though preparations have been ongoing for some time.