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U.S. accused Iran of involvement in Houthi attacks in Middle East

U.S. accused Iran of involvement in Houthi attacks in Middle East Commander of the U.S. Navy in the Middle East, Brad Cooper (photo: U.S. Central Command)

Iran is directly involved in the attacks on ships in the Middle East carried out by Yemeni Houthi rebels during Israel's conflict with Hamas, states the commander of the U.S. Navy in the Middle East, Brad Cooper.

It is noted that since November, Houthi rebels have carried out at least 34 attacks on merchant vessels transiting the vital route to the Egyptian Suez Canal, a crucial pathway for energy resources and cargoes traveling from Asia and the Middle East to Europe.

Cooper described these attacks as the worst since the so-called tanker war of the 1980s. He asserts that Iran directly fuels the Houthi attacks on shipping.

"What I'll say is Iran is clearly funding, they're resourcing, they are supplying and they're providing training. They’re obviously very directly involved," said Vice Admiral Brad Cooper.

On January 11, U.S. Navy personnel off the coast of Somalia intercepted a ship transporting components of Iranian-made ballistic and cruise missiles for the Houthi group.

This marked the first instance of seizing weapons for the militants since the beginning of their attacks on vessels in November 2023.

Yemeni Houthi attacks on ships and the response from the West

Since November 2023, Yemeni Houthi rebels have been consistently launching attacks using drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles on commercial vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. The initial attacks coincided with the beginning of Israel's conflict with the Palestinian group Hamas.

In response to numerous attacks, on January 12, the United States and the United Kingdom conducted missile strikes on Houthi military targets in Yemen.

Despite the Western strikes, the militant group continued its assaults on merchant ships. Specifically, on January 18, the Houthis targeted the Chem Ranger, a vessel under the flag of the Marshall Islands owned by the United States and operated by Greece, using anti-ship ballistic missiles.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is reportedly developing plans for a sustained military campaign against the Houthi rebels after 10 days of strikes failed to halt the group's attacks on foreign vessels in the Red Sea.