US launches wave of strikes on Houthi rebel targets in Yemen

US launches wave of strikes on Houthi rebel targets in Yemen

The United States military has unleashed a wave of attacks targeting radar sites operated by Yemen's Houthi rebels in retaliation to a series of missile strikes in the Arabian and Red Seas.

The US military's Central Command said they destroyed seven radar sites.

“These radars allow the Houthis to target maritime vessels and endanger commercial shipping,” Central Command said in a statement.

It's not yet known if anyone was killed or injured in the operation.

Houthi rebels claim that their attacks are in response to the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza strip, however the Iranian-backed rebel assaults often see Houthis target ships unrelated to the war.

On Friday tens of thousands of Yemenis held protests against Israel and its war in Gaza.

The strikes have halved traffic in a maritime corridor that is crucial for cargo and energy shipments between Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

This week, two cruise missiles launched by Houthi rebels set a bulk cargo carrier ablaze in the Gulf of Aden.

The strike hit the Ukrainian-owned and Polish-operated bulk cargo carrier the M/V Verbena and severely wounded a civilian mariner.

Meanwhile, Central Command said one commercial sailor from the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk cargo carrier Tutor remained missing after an attack Wednesday by the Houthis.

The Houthis, who have held Yemen's capital, Sanaa, since 2014, did not acknowledge any military losses after the US strikes.

The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks, killed three sailors, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the US Maritime Administration.

A US-led airstrike campaign that begun in January has killed at least 16 people and wounded 42 others in response.

The shadowy warfare taking part in one of the world's most crucial waterways has turned into the most intense running sea battle the US Navy has faced since World War II, its leaders and experts told AP.

“I don't think people really understand just kind of how deadly serious it is what we're doing and how under threat the ships continue to be,” Commander Eric Blomberg with the USS Laboon told the AP on a visit to his warship on the Red Sea.

“We only have to get it wrong once," he said. "The Houthis just have to get one through.”