Missiles target US warship
> But both missed vessel in waters off Yemen: Pentagon
SANAA: A US Navy guided missile destroyer was targeted on Sunday in a failed missile attack from territory in Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, a US military spokesman told Reuters, saying neither of the two missiles hit the ship.
The attempted strike on the USS Mason came just a week after a United Arab Emirates vessel came under attack from Houthis and suggests growing risks to the US military from Yemen’s conflict.
The US government, which has become increasingly vocal about civilian casualties in the war, this weekend announced a review of its support to a Saudi Arabia-led coalition battling the Houthis after a strike on mourners in the capital Sanaa that killed up to 140 people.
The failed missile attack on the USS Mason began around 7pm, when the ship detected two inbound missiles over a 60-minute period in the Red Sea off Yemen’s coast, the US military said.
“Both missiles impacted the water before reaching the ship,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said.
“There were no injuries to our sailors and no damage to the ship.”
Saudi Arabia and the US blame Shi’ite Iran for supplying weapons to the Houthis.
Tehran views the Houthis, who are from a Shi’ite sect, as the legitimate authority in Yemen but denies it supplies them with arms.
A US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the first missile triggered countermeasures from USS Mason. It was not immediately clear whether those defences may have helped prevent a direct hit on the ship.
The USS Mason did not return fire, the official said, adding the incident took place just north of the Bab al-Mandab strait off Yemen’s southern coast.
Last week’s attack on the UAE vessel also took place around the Bab al-Mandab strait, in what the UAE branded an “act of terrorism”.
In 2013, more than 3.4 million barrels of oil passed through the 20km-wide Bab al-Mandab each day, the US Energy Information Administration says.
It was unclear what actions the US military might take, but Davis stressed a commitment to defend freedom of navigation and protect US forces.
“We will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of our ships and our servicemen.”
The attack also came on the day Yemen’s powerful former leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, a key Houthi ally, called for an escalation of attacks against Saudi Arabia. – Reuters
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