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US Navy downs Iranian-made drone over Red Sea

Intelligence assessments suggest the drone was likely targeting the ship, one U.S. official said.

The “USS Carney” guided-missile destroyer defeats a combination of Houthi missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles in the Red Sea on Oct. 19, 2023. Credit: U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aaron Lau.
The “USS Carney” guided-missile destroyer defeats a combination of Houthi missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles in the Red Sea on Oct. 19, 2023. Credit: U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aaron Lau.

A U.S. Navy vessel shot down a Houthi drone near the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. officials told AP that the USS Carney downed the Iranian-made KAS-04 drone in the southern Red Sea. Intelligence assessments suggest the Carney was likely the drone’s target, one official said.

The strait, a strategic chokepoint in the Red Sea, is of vital importance to global shipping, especially for the transportation of oil and natural gas.

The incident came a day after U.S. Central Command reported that an Iranian drone had come with 1,500 yards of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was conducting routine operations in the Central Arabian Gulf on Tuesday.

“This unsafe, unprofessional, and irresponsible behavior by Iran risks U.S. and partner nation lives and needs to cease immediately,” said the U.S. military.

“U.S. naval forces remain vigilant and will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows while promoting regional maritime security,” it added.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned 21 individuals and groups who are part of “financial facilitation networks” that benefit the Iranian military.

Those designated help finance Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, Armed Forces General Staff and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force.

Israel has bolstered its naval presence in the Red Sea area following repeated missile and drone attacks from Yemen. The IDF said that missile boats were deployed “in accordance with the assessment of the situation, and as part of the increased defense efforts in the region.”

In the almost eight weeks since Hamas launched its cross-border attack on southern Israel, Iranian-backed terrorists in Yemen have launched numerous ballistic and surface-to-air missiles towards the Jewish state.

On Nov. 22, Israel Air Force jets intercepted a cruise missile heading for the Red Sea resort city of Eilat. The missile did not enter Israeli territory.

Also last week, the Houthis threatened to attack any ship associated with Israel, according to a statement posted to X (formerly Twitter).

The Shi’ite group said it would target all vessels operated or owned by Israeli companies as well as other ships bearing the “flag of the Zionist entity.”

The Houthis’ decision to target Israeli commercial vessels in the Red Sea was made in light “of what the Gaza Strip is being exposed to from the brutal Israeli-American aggression,” Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea added.

On Sunday, an Israeli-linked ship was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden in what the Zodiac Maritime management company described as “a suspected piracy incident.”

The USS Mason destroyer and allied ships—reportedly belonging to Japan—recovered the Central Park tanker, U.S. Central Command confirmed Monday. During the rescue operation, five armed hijackers attempted to flee in a small boat and were detained by the U.S. Navy.

Two days earlier, an Iranian drone attacked an Israeli-owned vessel in the Indian Ocean.

The attack on the CMA CGM Symi container ship came a week after Houthis hijacked an Israeli-linked ship in the Red Sea.

On Nov. 19, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed that the Houthis hijacked the Bahamian-flagged Galaxy Leader vehicle carrier, calling it a “very grave incident of global consequence.”

“The ship departed Turkey on its way to India, staffed by civilians of various nationalities, not including Israelis. It is not an Israeli ship,” the military added. The Galaxy Leader is registered by a British company partially owned by Israeli tycoon Abraham Ungar.

“This is another act of Iranian terrorism and constitutes a leap forward in Iran’s aggression against the citizens of the free world, with international consequences regarding the security of the global shipping lanes,” the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem said.

On Wednesday, the Canadian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, U.K. and U.S. foreign ministers, as well as the high representative of the European Union, called on the Houthis to halt their attacks.

“Emphasizing the importance of maritime security, we call on all parties not to threaten or interfere with lawful exercise of navigational rights and freedoms by all vessels,” according to a statement by the top G7 diplomats.

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