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U.S., UK Shoot Down 21 Drones in Red Sea

U.S. and UK forces in the Red Sea shot down 21 drones fired at ships in the Red Sea on Tuesday, Reuters has reported, citing the U.S. Central Command.

This was the 26th attack by Yemen’s Houthis on vessels in the Red Sea since November 19, Central Command also said. In it, the U.S. and UK forces shot down 18 drones two anti-ship cruise missiles and anti-ship ballistic missiles.

Attacks on cargo ships or tankers near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait from Houthi-held territory in Yemen have become a daily occurrence in recent weeks as the Iran-aligned group intensified attacks after the war between Israel and Hamas broke out in October.

The Houthis are demanding that Israel stop bombing Gaza and began their attacks by targeting Israel-bound or owned vessels. Recently, they said that ships that signal they have no ties with Israel will be allowed to move freely in the Red Sea.

Large container shippers may decide not to risk it, however, and continue diverting traffic to the Cape of Good Hope despite the added costs, seeing as it has not been just Israel-linked or bound ships that have been the target of attacks.

The stepped-up military presence of the U.S. and the UK in the Red Sea came in response to the attacks as the U.S. tried to lead a broad coalition of allies but most declined to serve under U.S. command and said they would contribute as they see fit.

The Houthis, meanwhile, said that they would also start targeting U.S. military ships if the U.S. Army attacks the Yemeni group directly.

Amid the persistent attacks, Goldman Sachs warned last week that oil prices could rise substantially. In an interview with CNBC, the head of the bank’s oil research business, Daan Struyven said that prolonged disruption of oil transport in the Red Sea could add between three or four dollars to benchmarks.

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For now, however, oil and fuel tankers have continued moving freely in the Red Sea, Reuters reported earlier this week. Still, some traders such as BP and Equinor have opted to reroute their tankers around Africa.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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