UK and US brace for retaliation following joint strike on Houthi targets in Yemen

The senior Biden administration official said the strikes were 'aimed specifically to disrupt and degrade Houthis' capabilities to threaten global trade and freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical waterways.'

UK and US brace for retaliation following joint strike on Houthi targets in Yemen
AP Photo/Vahid Salemi
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The Biden administration, according to a high-ranking defense authority, expects retaliation following the joint airstrikes by the U.S. and U.K. on Houthi positions in Yemen. These airstrikes were a response to the continuous assaults by the militant group on commercial ships in the Red Sea.

Late Thursday, after the strikes, the official stated, the administration has so far "not seen any direct retaliatory action directed towards our U.S. or other coalition members," Fox News reports.

"While we fully expect [the joint] airstrikes to diminish the Houthis’ capability and degrade it, and certainly over time to reduce their capacity and propensity to conduct these attacks, we would not be surprised to see some sort of response," the senior administration official said.

He mentioned that President Biden instructed Secretary Austin to execute the response on Tuesday in reaction to one of the most sophisticated attacks by the Houthis targeting global shipping routes in the Red Sea.

That day witnessed the launch of one-way attack UAVs, anti-ship cruise missiles, and an anti-ship ballistic missile by Iranian-supported Houthi militants from their controlled region in Yemen towards the international shipping lanes in the Southern Red Sea.

The assault occurred while numerous merchant ships were in transit, marking it as one of the most extensive drone and missile attacks by the terrorist group since they started targeting commercial shipping in November.

The senior Biden administration official said the strikes were "aimed specifically to disrupt and degrade Houthis' capabilities to threaten global trade and freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical waterways."

The targets selected, he said, "focused specifically on Houthi missile radar and UAV capabilities … essential to the Houthis' campaign against commercial shipping in international waters."

He stated that the Houthi assaults have impacted the people, cargo, and commercial interests of over 50 countries, leading to more than a dozen shipping firms rerouting their vessels around the Cape of Good Hope.

The official mentioned that Defense Secretary Austin oversaw the strike on Friday morning in real-time from Walter Reed Hospital, engaging in numerous calls with the Joint Staff, National Security Council, and Centcom Commander Kurilla.

The Houthi militants have linked their operations to Israel's military actions in Gaza, which were in retaliation to the Oct. 7 attack where Hamas militants killed 1,200 people and took 240 others hostage. The senior official in the Biden administration dismissed this claim as "completely baseless and illegitimate," adding that, "That is simply not true. They are firing indiscriminately on vessels with global ties."

The U.S. military's strikes were a response to ongoing drone and missile attacks on commercial ships since the Israel-Hamas conflict began. This action followed a final warning issued by the White House and allied nations to the Houthis, threatening military action if the attacks didn't stop. Details about the strikes were provided by officials under anonymity, and members of Congress had been briefed on the plans earlier Thursday.

The insurgents, responsible for 27 incidents using numerous drones and missiles since Nov. 19, have cautioned that any assault by American forces on their positions in Yemen would provoke a strong military response.

Ali al-Qahoum, a high-ranking Houthi official, vowed there would be retaliation. "The battle will be bigger…. and beyond the imagination and expectation of the Americans and the British."

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