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Over 20 countries join U.S. coalition to protect Red Sea from Houthi attacks

Over 20 countries join U.S. coalition to protect Red Sea from Houthi attacks Over 20 countries join the coalition to protect the Red Sea (photo: GettyImages)

Over 20 countries have agreed to join a U.S.-led coalition to protect commercial shipping in the Red Sea from attacks by Yemeni Houthi rebels, according to Reuters.

It is noted that about eight countries that joined the operation have refused to publicly announce their participation due to the political sensitivity of the operation, as regional tensions rise due to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

"We've had over 20 nations now sign on to participate. We'll allow other countries, defer to them to talk about their participation," said Pentagon spokesman Major General Patrick Ryder.

He added that each country will contribute with ships, personnel, or other support. A Pentagon representative referred to this operation as a coalition of the willing.

It is claimed that Houthi attacks have disrupted a key trade route linking Europe and North America with Asia through the Suez Canal. This has led to a sharp increase in the cost of container shipping as companies seek to send their goods via alternative, often longer routes.

Houthi attacks on merchant vessels in the Red Sea

Since November of this year, Houthi rebels in the Red Sea have continued attacks on trade ships with ties to Israel.

On December 16, a British destroyer successfully intercepted a Sea Viper drone that attempted to attack a commercial vessel in the Red Sea.

Earlier last week, a land-based cruise missile from the Houthi rebels hit the commercial tanker Strinda. The vessel, flagged under Norway, sustained significant damage with an onboard fire. It was transporting oil and biofuel from Malaysia to Venice.

In addition, the United States has stated that it is considering the possibility of striking the Houthi rebels in response to their attacks on trade ships.

On December 19, the Pentagon announced the initiation of a special operation called Prosperity Guardian to safeguard maritime traffic in the Red Sea.