U.S. and UK, French military shoot down Houthi drones after attack on bulk carrier, destroyers

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    The container ship, Safeen Pride, with a destination of ‘HODEIDAH (ARMED GUARDS)’ seen at sea on January 17, 2024 in Djibouti, Djibouti. 

    Luke Dray | Getty Images

    U.S., French and British forces downed dozens of drones in the Red Sea area overnight and on Saturday after Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis targeted bulk carrier Propel Fortune and U.S. destroyers in the region, the U.S. military said in a statement.

    The Houthis have been attacking ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November in what they say is a campaign of solidarity with Palestinians during Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

    The group’s military spokesman Yahya Sarea said in a televised speech on Saturday they had targeted the cargo vessel and “a number of U.S. war destroyers at the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden with 37 drones”.

    U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said the U.S. military and coalition forces had downed at least 28 uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) over the Red Sea in the early hours of Saturday.

    “No U.S. or Coalition Navy vessels were damaged in the attack and there were also no reports by commercial ships of damage,” CENTCOM said in a statement.

    Earlier on Saturday, CENTCOM said the military was responding to a large-scale attack on ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden between 4 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. (0100-0330 GMT).

    The UAVs were intended to present “an imminent threat to merchant vessels, U.S. Navy, and coalition ships in the region”, it said in a post on social media platform X.

    TV broadcast speech of Yemen’s Houthi Spokesperson Yahya Sare’e, on March 4, 2024, in Sana’a, Yemen. 

    Mohammed Hamoud | Getty Images News | Getty Images

    A French warship and fighter jets also shot down four combat drones that were advancing towards naval vessels belonging to the European Aspides mission in the region, a French army statement said.

    “This defensive action directly contributed to the protection of the cargo ship True Confidence, under the Barbados flag, which was struck on March 6 and is being towed, as well as other commercial vessels transiting in the area,” it said.

    France has a warship in the area as well as warplanes at its bases in Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates.

    Drone attack

    Britain’s Ministry of Defence said its warship HMS Richmond had joined international allies in repelling a Houthi drone attack overnight, saying no injuries or damage were sustained.

    “Last night, HMS Richmond used its Sea Ceptor missiles to shoot down two attack drones – successfully repelling yet another illegal attack by the Iranian-backed Houthis,” defence minister Grant Shapps said on X.

    “The UK and our allies will continue to take the action necessary to save lives and protect freedom of navigation.”

    On Wednesday three seafarers were killed in a missile strike by the Houthis on the Greek-operated True Confidence, the first civilian casualties since the group started its attacks on the key shipping route.

    The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) also confirmed there had been an attempted attack on the Singapore-flagged Propel Fortune.

    It said the shipping company reported two explosions in close vicinity of the bulk carrier, but all crew on board were safe and the vessel was proceeding to its next port of call.

    “Based on sources, Propel Fortune was likely targeted due to outdated U.S. ownership data,” UKMTO said in a statement.

    Sarea said the Houthis would continue their attacks “until the aggression stops and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted”.



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