WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- A U.S. Naval destroyer off the coast of Yemen early Thursday fired cruise missiles on radar sites that had been used to target another American warship, the Pentagon said.
The strikes, conducted by the USS Nitze about 4 a.m. Thursday local time, were carried out in "self defense," officials said. They come after missiles were fired at the USS Mason from Shiite Houthi rebel-controlled territory in Yemen on Wednesday and Sunday. All of the attempted strikes missed and happened when the Mason was in international waters, officials said.
"These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway," Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said. "The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic."
The U.S. strikes targeted three radar sites "involved in the recent missile launches threatening USS Mason and other vessels operating in international waters in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb," a heavily traveled waterway between Yemen and Africa.
"Initial assessments show the sites were destroyed," the Pentagon said.
Early Thursday, pro-Houthi Saba news agency reported the rebel group had "nothing to do" with the missile strikes and the "allegations are unfounded."
"The U.S. allegations just came in the context of creating false justifications to pave the way for Saudi-led coalition to escalate their aggression attacks against Yemen and to cover for crimes continually committed by the aggression coalition against the Yemeni people and to continue an all-out blockade after refusal stances have been increasing against such heinous crimes on the Yemeni people," said the official.