After two separate incidents of missiles fired at U.S. navy ships from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, the U.S. struck back, launching tomahawk missiles and destroying coastal radar installations in the country.
Yemen is in the throes of a bloody civil war between the government, supported by Saudi Arabia and its ally the United States, and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
In both attacks on Navy ships — one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday evening — U.S. vessels were intentionally targeted by Houthi-controlled radar stations before being fired upon. Both times, the missiles failed to find their intended targets, but officials have said that they are sure rebels were intentionally targeting the American ships because spotters were witnessed nearby before the missiles were launched.
“Anybody who puts U.S. Navy ships at risk,” Captain Jeff Davis, a U.S. Defense Department spokesman, said on Tuesday, “does so at their own peril.”
According to Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook, President Obama promptly approved the strikes, the idea being that by destroying the Houthi radars, it will be much harder for rebels to target U.S. ships in the future.
Recent strikes on the United States Navy are believed to be retaliation for an air strike over the weekend, which killed 140 people and has been widely blamed on Saudi Arabia.
“These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships, and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway,” Cook said about Wednesday’s action. “The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic, as appropriate, and will continue to maintain our freedom of navigation in the Red Sea … and elsewhere around the world.”