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US warplanes strike Houthi storage facilities in Yemen after missile and drone attack

WASHINGTON: American fighter jets struck three underground storage facilities in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen late Friday in an apparent counter-strike after the Iran-backed militia launched another set of missiles and drones toward targets in the Red Sea.

A US official late on Friday said the jets from the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carried out the sortie from the Red Sea, where the US Navy is leading a coalition task force to protect transiting commercial vessels from Houthi attacks.

Strikes and explosions were seen and heard in Sanaa on Friday night, according to witnesses and videos, some circulating on social media. Footage showed explosions and smoke rising over the Houthi-controlled capital.

There was no official confirmation of the origin of the explosions. Yemeni TV station Al-Masirah, which is linked to the Houthis, reported strikes hitting the city.

In a statement posted early on Saturday on X, formerly known as Twitter, the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed the “strike against three Houthi underground storage facilities in Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist-controlled areas of Yemen.

“These strikes targeted capabilities used by the Houthis to threaten and attack naval ships and merchant vessels in the region. Illegal Houthi attacks have killed three mariners, sunk a commercial vessel lawfully transiting the Red Sea, disrupted humanitarian aid bound for Yemen, harmed Middle East economies, and caused environmental damage,” the statement said.

“These weapons storage facilities presented a threat to US and coalition forces and merchant vessels in the region. These actions are necessary to protect our forces, ensure freedom of navigation, and make international waters safer and more secure for US, coalition, and merchant vessels,” it added.

It said that between approximately 4:22 a.m. and 11:10 p.m. (Sanaa time), CENTCOM forces “destroyed four unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen in self-defense.”

It added during this timeframe, the Houthis fired four anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) toward the Red Sea and that no injuries or damage were reported by US coalition or commercial ships.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, which are allied with Iran and control much of the country’s north and west, have launched a campaign of drone and missile attacks on shipping in the Red Sea, which the rebels describe as an effort to pressure Israel to end its war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Houthis have kept up their campaign of attacks despite two months of US-led airstrikes.

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