U.S. and U.K. conduct airstrikes against Houthi targets in Yemen

The U.S. and U.K together conducted strikes for a second time this month against Houthi targets in Yemen, two U.S. defense officials told CBS News. 

The strikes were launched against eight Houthi targets and conducted with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands, U.S. Central Command said in a statement Monday evening. 

“The targets included missile systems and launchers, air defense systems, radars, and deeply buried weapons storage facilities,” CENTCOM said, adding that the strikes were intended to “degrade Houthi capability to continue their reckless and unlawful attacks on U.S. and U.K. ships as well as international commercial shipping in the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden.” 

Earlier this month, with support from other countries, the U.S. and U.K. targeted just under 30 locations in Yemen with more than 150 precision-guided munitions. 

In total, the U.S. has conducted eight rounds of airstrikes, including Monday’s, against Houthi targets to retaliate for the group’s continued attacks on commercial shipping. 

Monday’s strikes were successful and had “good impacts” on targets, a U.S. official told CBS News. The official said it was unknown if there were any casualties among the Houthis.

The strikes were launched from air, surface and subsurface platforms and included Tomahawk land attack missiles as well as manned aircraft from the U.S.S. Eisenhower, the official said.

The underground storage facilities contained more advanced weaponry than previously targeted sites, the official added.

U.S. officials also said the Houthis still “remain capable” of conducting attacks against shipping but this and previous strikes have “definitely degraded their ability to conduct maritime attacks.”

The Iran-backed Houthis have launched over 30 attacks in commercial shipping lanes since November. Although no one has been seriously injured, the attacks have led some shipping companies to direct their ships away from the Red Sea. 

The Houthis have not been able to successfully launch an attack since Jan. 18, although it’s not for lack of trying. In two cases over the weekend, the U.S. struck Houthi missiles as the missiles were being prepared to launch, according to statements from U.S. Central Command. 

Those two strikes were part of five preemptive strikes the U.S. took over the course of five days last week. A U.S. official previously told CBS News that the initial strikes the U.S. conducted with the U.K. destroyed enough of the Houthis’ air defense capabilities to enable more extensive U.S. surveillance over Yemen, making it possible to see what the Houthis are preparing. 

The Houthis started launching attacks at commercial ships, according to Houthi spokespeople, to protest the war in Gaza, but many of the ships they’ve targeted have no connection to Israel or Israel’s war, according to U.S. officials. 

The U.S. initially avoided striking the Houthis directly, in large part because of the Biden administration’s focus on preventing Israel’s war with Hamas from turning into a wider conflict. 

The Pentagon in December announced an international task force called “Operation Prosperity Guardian,” which is composed of about 20 countries that are set to act as a kind of highway patrol on the Red Sea, providing extra support to commercial ships if needed, according to the Defense Department. 

That international effort is still in place, but the U.S. has apparently decided that direct military action against Houthi targets remains a necessity. 

—David Martin contributed reporting.

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