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Iran-backed rebels attacked three commercial ships in the Red Sea, including a British merchant ship. As a result, an American warship intervened and fired in defense of the vessels.
Houthi rebels in Yemen have taken responsibility for targeting two vessels allegedly connected to Israel, marking a significant increase in recent attacks on ships in the Middle East. These attacks have occurred while Israel is engaged in a conflict with Hamas in Gaza.
The Israeli military asserted that the ships were not affiliated with their country.
The British-owned vessel, Unity Explorer, flying the flag of the Bahamas, was one of the ships attacked in a drone and missile strike on Sunday.
The US Central Command released a statement stating that the USS Carney, a destroyer in the Navy, fired in self-defense and successfully took down three drones during a lengthy attack on Sunday.
The US destroyer reported detecting a ballistic missile launched from Houthi-controlled regions of Yemen towards the large cargo ship.
The warship successfully intercepted a drone that was believed to be approaching the Carney while it was responding to a distress call. However, there is uncertainty as to whether the drone was specifically targeting the warship.
After approximately half an hour, the Unity Explorer was struck by a missile, resulting in minor harm to the ship.
During the attack that started at approximately 9:15am (local time), two additional commercial ships, named Number 9 and Sophie II and flying the Panamanian flag, were hit by missiles.
According to Central Command, The Number 9 sustained some damage but no casualties, while the Sophie II did not experience any significant damage.
The Carney, a destroyer from the United States’ Arleigh Burke-class equipped with guided missiles, has successfully intercepted numerous rockets launched by the Houthis towards both Israel and ships in previous occurrences.
The United States has promised to “examine all suitable reactions” following the attack, specifically pointing to Iran as responsible.
The Central Command stated that these assaults pose a clear danger to global trade and the safety of maritime routes. They have put at risk the lives of international sailors from various countries.
The Houthis accepted accountability for two of the attacks that occurred on Sunday. They stated that the initial ship was targeted with a missile and the second with a drone in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.
According to Brigadier General Yahya Saree, spokesperson for the Houthi military, Israeli ships will not be allowed to travel through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden until they cease their attack on our resilient brethren in Gaza.
“The Yemeni military issues a renewed warning to Israeli vessels and those linked to Israel, stating that any violation of the guidelines outlined in this statement will result in them being considered a legitimate target.”
The Unity Explorer, owned by the British, has Dan David Ungar as one of its officers residing in Israel. Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) is associated with the Number 9, and Kyowa Kisen Co Ltd of Japan is associated with the Sophie II.
The Houthis recently carried out a number of assaults on separate ships in the Red Sea, including an attack on multiple vessels on Sunday. In the previous month, the Houthis took control of a Japanese-operated car carrier in the Red Sea near Yemen.
Last week, missiles landed in close proximity to another US warship following its aid to a vessel associated with Israel that was briefly taken over by armed individuals.
Reporters from other organizations also contributed to this report.