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The Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen claimed on Thursday they hit a U.S. warship in the Gulf of Aden and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, while the U.S. said the Houthis attacked – again – a U.S. commercial shipping vessel in the area.
“In solidarity with the Palestinian people and in response to the American-British aggression on our country, clashes occurred with a number of American destroyers and warships in the Gulf of Aden and the Bab el-Mandab Strait,” Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said in a televised statement carried by Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.
Houthi missiles made a direct hit on an American warship, forcing two commercial vessels the warships were escorting to “retreat from entering the Red Sea,” according to the Houthi spokesman.
The U.S. Central Command said that the Houthis fired on Wednesday three anti-ship ballistic missiles from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen toward the U.S.-flagged, owned, and operated container ship M/V Maersk Detroit, which was transiting the Gulf of Aden. One missile impacted in the sea. The two other missiles were successfully engaged and shot down by the USS Gravely There were no reported injuries or damage to the ship, the Central Command said.
The Houthis continue to attack commercial shipping vessels in the Gulf of Aden and close to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, forcing a growing number of cargo ships and oil tankers to divert away from the Red Sea/Suez Canal route to the longer and more expensive route via the Cape of Good Hope in Africa.
Earlier this week, the head of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, told the AP that Iran is “very directly involved” in attacks on ships in the Red Sea staged by Yemen’s Houthis.
On Monday night, U.S. and UK forces carried out a new round of attacks on targets in Yemen, taking out storage sites used by the Houthis, drones, and missile launchers.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com