The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) executed a self-defense strike against Houthi forces early Sunday morning, as detailed in a statement released on X Sunday evening. The strike involved American forces targeting four anti-ship cruise missiles that were poised for launch against ships in the Red Sea. According to CENTCOM, these missiles were identified in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, posing an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region. The statement emphasized that these actions aimed to safeguard freedom of navigation and enhance the safety of international waters for both U.S. Navy vessels and merchant ships.
Earlier on Sunday, CENTCOM shared video footage demonstrating U.S. forces participating in joint strikes against Iranian-backed Houthi militants on the previous day. The video showcased rockets launching from ships in the dark, underscoring the collaborative efforts against the Houthis, which involved support from several nations, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Bahrain, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. These strikes on Saturday were initiated from the USS Carney, USS Gravely, and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In the context of escalating tensions in the region, the U.S. Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, emphasized the goal of recent counter-strikes against the Houthis. Austin stated that these strikes aimed to “degrade the capabilities” of the Iranian-backed Houthi militia, preventing them from carrying out destabilizing attacks on U.S. and international vessels transiting the Red Sea. Austin’s remarks underscored the collective international action taken to deter the Houthis and send a clear message that illegal attacks on international shipping and naval vessels would result in severe consequences.
It is worth noting that the Houthis have routinely targeted commercial vessels in the Red Sea, particularly following the escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict in the fall. Despite these actions, the Houthi forces in Yemen are not officially designated as a terrorist organization by the United States.