US probe ‘mis­sile threat’ off Yemen

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

The US Navy is in­ves­ti­gat­ing a pos­si­ble mis­sile at­tack from Yemen on a group of Amer­i­can war­ships in the Red Sea.

The Red Sea and the nearby strate­gic Bab El Man­deb strait, a cru­cial choke­point for in­ter­na­tional ship­ping and crude oil, has been the scene of what the US de­scribes as at least two mis­sile at­tacks from rebel-held ter­ri­tory in Yemen. Amer­i­can forces have fired back once with Tom­a­hawk mis­siles, de­stroy­ing mo­bile radar po­si­tions in the first shots fired by the US in anger in the stale­mated con­flict.

In the lat­est in­ci­dent, a group of Amer­i­can war­ships in the Red Sea on Satur­day night “had in­di­ca­tions of a pos­si­ble in­bound mis­sile threat and de­ployed ap­pro­pri­ate de­fen­sive mea­sures”, said Cap­tain Paula Dunn, a spokes­woman for US Navy Forces Cen­tral Com­mand. She said in a state­ment that all ships and sailors were safe, with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

An Amer­i­can de­fence of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day that one of the ships saw on radar what sailors be­lieved to be mis­siles be­ing fired on it out of Yemen at night.

Yemen’s Shia rebels, known as Houthis, and their al­lies did not im­me­di­ately com­ment on the in­ci­dent on Satur­day. Pre­vi­ously, the Houthi-con­trolled SABA news agency ran dis­patches deny­ing rebels ever fired on Amer­i­can war­ships.

Ad­mi­ral John Richard­son, the Navy’s top of­fi­cer, said ear­lier on Satur­day the de­stroyer USS Ma­son ap­peared “to have come un­der at­tack”. The Ma­son, an Ar­leigh Burke class of guided mis­sile de­stroyer whose home port is Nor­folk, Vir­ginia, has been tar­geted twice be­fore by mis­sile fire out of Yemen, ac­cord­ing to the Navy.

Also known to be in the Red Sea near the Ma­son are the USS Nitze and the USS Ponce.

Pre­vi­ously, an UAEleased Swift boat came un­der rocket fire near the same area as the Ma­son and sus­tained se­ri­ous dam­age. The ves­sel was car­ry­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian aid and had a crew of civil­ians.

Yemen has been at war since Septem­ber 2014, when the Houthis swept into the cap­i­tal, Sanaa. A Saudi-led coali­tion launched a cam­paign against the Houthis in March 2015.

The US has been pro­vid­ing lo­gis­ti­cal and in­tel­li­gence sup­port to the coali­tion, but had be­gun to with­draw its sup­port in re­cent weeks over civil­ian ca­su­al­ties from the air cam­paign.


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