US strikes rebels di­rectly for first time

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

SANAA (AP): THE UNITED States car­ried out strikes against Ye­men’s Shi­ite Houthi rebels for the first time in that coun­try’s civil war, de­stroy­ing three coastal radar sites with Tom­a­hawk cruise mis­siles in re­tal­i­a­tion for mis­sile fire ear­lier this week to­ward US Navy ships.

The strikes early yes­ter­day point to the po­ten­tial for the US to be dragged into a greater role in Ye­men’s war. For more than a year, Wash­ing­ton has been back­ing the Saudi-led coali­tion wag­ing a fierce air cam­paign against the Houthis and their al­lies. But Amer­i­can forces had not pre­vi­ously tar­geted the rebels di­rectly.

But it ap­pears the Houthis lashed out at the United States with the mis­sile fire against its ships in re­tal­i­a­tion after war­planes from the Saudi-led coali­tion struck a fu­neral in the Ye­meni cap­i­tal, Sanaa, last week­end which was being at­tended by se­nior rebel fig­ures. The dev­as­tat­ing strikes killed nearly 140 peo­ple, most of them civil­ians.

Hu­man Rights Watch said yes­ter­day that the fu­neral bomb­ing con­sti­tutes an ap­par­ent war crime. It also called on the United States and Bri­tain to im­me­di­ately sus­pend all arms sales to Saudi Ara­bia. The two coun­tries have sold the king­dom bil­lions of dol­lars in weapons for use in the Ye­men cam­paign, and the US mil­i­tary has pro­vided lo­gis­ti­cal and in­tel­li­gence sup­port as well.

No in­for­ma­tion on ca­su­al­ties from the US mis­siles was pro­vided by Amer­i­can of­fi­cials. The Amer­i­can mil­i­tary of­fi­cial said the sites were in re­mote ar­eas, where there was lit­tle risk of civil­ian ca­su­al­ties or col­lat­eral dam­age. The of­fi­cial spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rised to talk to the press.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama au­tho­rised the strikes at the rec­om­men­da­tion of De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash Carter and the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen­eral Joseph Dun­ford, Pen­tagon press sec­re­tary Peter Cook said in a state­ment.

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