Another round of missile strikes has been fired on Houthi targets in Yemen, with Canada and Australia among the countries lending their support to the U.S. and U.K. joint-military effort.
The Monday night bombing saw warship- and submarine-launched Tomahawk missiles and fighter jets take out what officials said in a joint statement were Houthi underground storage sites and launchers.
It’s the second time this month the two allies conducted coordinated retaliatory strikes and comes 10 days after warships and jets from both countries hit more than 60 targets in 28 locations, and is the eighth time the U.S. has conducted strikes since Jan. 12.
“Our aim remains to de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea,” the statement read. “But let us reiterate our warning to Houthi leadership: we will not hesitate to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways in the face of continued threats.”
The Houthis are an Iran-backed rebel group that has been attacking western commercial and military vessels in the Red Sea in opposition to Israel’s military actions in Gaza.
Earlier this month, Canada said its support in such strikes by the U.S. and U.K. were the “consequences” of the rebel group’s attacks, which have not only seen military naval craft but shipping vessels hit, with impacts to global shipping given the sea being a vital trade route.
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About 400 commercial vessels transit the southern Red Sea at any given time. And the ongoing violence has prompted companies to reroute their ships, sending them around Africa through the Cape of Good Hope instead — a much longer and less efficient passage.
In an online statement, the Houthis’ media office said the raids targeted Yemen’s capital of Sanaa, with an Associated Press journalist in the city saying they heard aircraft flying above the skies. A resident from the city’s south, Jamal Hassan, told the Associated Press that two strikes landed near his home.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke with President Joe Biden earlier Monday. Sunak’s office said the two leaders agreed to take “as needed, targeted military action to degrade Houthi capabilities.”
The recent missions by the U.S. go after launchers that are armed and ready to fire, with officials saying it demonstrates the military’s increasing ability to watch, detect and strike militant activities in Yemen.
The U.S. and allies had warned of retaliation for weeks, with the White House and a list of partner nations issuing a final warning on Jan. 3 to the Houthis to cease their attacks or face potential military action, but in the days that followed ships were still attacked.
The Biden administration also put the Houthis back on its list of specially designated global terrorists, which come with sanctions meant to sever violent extremist groups from their sources of financing, while still allowing humanitarian aid to flow to impoverished Yemenis. Canada has not said yet if they will do the same, but that they are “assessing” whether to do so.
The World Food Programme says 21.6 million in Yemen are in need of humanitarian assistance, 17 million of whom are “food insecure.”
The Houthis have vowed to continue their attacks in the Red Sea and threatened to respond to the U.S. and British airstrikes, while White House national security spokesperson John Kirby stressed the U.S. was not seeking a prolonged conflict with the group, though it was up to them to stop its attacks in order to prevent further reprisals.
— with files from Global News’ Sean Boynton and The Associated Press
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