Yemen's Houthis claim attack on four ships at Israel's Haifa port

CAIRO (Reuters) - Yemen's Houthis said early on Sunday that they had conducted a joint military operation with the Islamic Resistance in Iraq militant group, targeting four ships at Israel's northern Haifa port.

The Houthi military spokesperson, Yahya Saree, said in a televised statement that the two groups launched a drone attack on two cement tankers and two cargo ships at the Haifa port on Saturday.

He said the ships belonged to companies that "violated the ban on entering the ports of occupied Palestine".

The Israeli military did not immediately comment, though it had previously denied a similar claim by the Houthis early this month.

Saree also said the Houthis had attacked the Shorthorn Express in the Mediterranean using drones as part of the group's campaign to disrupt shipping in key waterways, which they say is an act of solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war.

"The two operations successfully achieved their objectives, and the strikes were precise and direct," Saree said.

There was no independent confirmation of strikes, and Reuters could not verify the claims.

The Iran-aligned Houthis first launched drone and missile strikes in shipping lanes in November. In dozens of attacks, they have sunk two vessels, seized another and killed at least three seafarers.

(Reporting by Hatem Maher and Ahmed Tolba; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Cynthia Osterman)