American and British forces shot down 21 Houthi drones and missiles over the southern Red Sea on Tuesday night, according to U.S. Central Command.
Two U.S. security officials told CNN that the number of Houthi drones and missiles intercepted by naval forces was actually 24 and that it was “one of the largest Houthi attacks that occurred in the Red Sea in recent months.”
CENTCOM tweeted early on Wednesday that a “complex attack of Iranian designed one-way attack UAVs (OWA UAVs), anti-ship cruise missiles, and an anti-ship ballistic missile” took place at 9:15 p.m., adding that “dozens of merchant vessels were transiting” at the time of the attack.
According to CENTCOM, a total of 18 drones, two anti-ship cruise missiles and one anti-ship ballistic missile were intercepted in a combined response that included F/A 18 fighter jets that took off from three aircraft carriers—the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, USS Gravely and USS Laboon. The United Kingdom’s HMS Diamond assisted in the efforts to counter the Houthi attack.
There were no reports of injuries or damage.
CENTCOM said that it was the 26th attack by the Iranian terror proxy on commercial shipping lanes in the Red Sea since Nov. 19.
The Houthis took responsibility for the attack, with the terror group’s “military” spokesperson Yahya Saree saying the target was a U.S. ship “providing support” to Israel.
British Defense Minister Grant Shapps said on Wednesday that the Diamond may have also been the target of the Houthi attack.
“My understanding is that both the ship itself potentially was targeted… but also that there’s a generalized attack on all shipping [in the region],” Shapps told reporters.
Germany condemned the latest attacks, with a foreign ministry spokesperson saying that they “show that the Houthis are clearly focusing on escalation against international merchant shipping and the ships of our partners and allies in the region.”
UNSC to vote on condemning Houthi attacks
The United Nations Security Council was scheduled to vote on Wednesday on a U.S.-initiated measure to condemn the Houthis’ attacks on commercial shipping channels and demand an immediate halt to them.
According to the draft resolution, which was seen by the Associated Press, the attacks are disrupting global maritime commerce “and undermine navigational rights and freedoms as well as regional peace and security.”
Additionally, the resolution demands the immediate release of the Japanese-operated and Israeli-linked cargo ship M/V Galaxy Leader, which was hijacked on Nov. 19. The Bahamian-flagged Galaxy Leader is registered by a British company partially owned by Israeli tycoon Abraham Ungar. It had 25 crew members on board, from Ukraine, Bulgaria, the Philippines and Mexico.
Furthermore, the measure would condemn all arms deals with the Houthi rebels, which violate UNSC sanctions. This section doesn’t, however, mention Iran, the main backer of the Houthis.
The measure also urges steps to avoid further escalation in the Red Sea and calls for increased diplomatic efforts.
“This is an international challenge that demands collective action,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at the time. “Therefore, today I am announcing the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian, an important new multinational security initiative.”
As part of the operation, several countries will conduct joint patrols while others will provide intelligence support in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
The United States has not directly attacked the Houthis in Yemen or struck any of their military infrastructure.