CENTCOM conducts self-defense strike in Yemen as U.N. questions daily attacks

U.S. Central Command said it launched defensive strikes into Yemen, hitting two Houthi explosive uncrewed surface vehicles. Photo via U.S. Central Command/UPI
U.S. Central Command said it launched defensive strikes into Yemen, hitting two Houthi explosive uncrewed surface vehicles. Photo via U.S. Central Command/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. Central Command forces conducted a self-defense strike Monday against two Houthi explosive uncrewed surface vehicles in Yemen, amid growing tensions in the Middle East that have prompted the U.N. Security Council to raise concerns about the daily attacks.

The strike occurred at approximately 3:30 p.m., Sanaa time, and comes two days after the United States and Britain launched a series of airstrikes against Iran-backed Houthi-controlled military targets.


The strikes Saturday hit 36 Houthi targets in 13 locations across Yemen and were the latest large-scale response to the Red Sea attacks. The weekend strikes were conducted with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark and other allies.

CENTCOM said it also launched an attack Sunday on anti-ship cruise missiles.

"These actions will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy vessels and merchant vessels," according to CENTCOM.


The United States has been launching attacks into Yemen since Jan. 11 as the Iran proxy militia has been attacking commercial vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden amid Israel's war against Hamas, another Iran-backed militia.

The Houthis say their attacks are in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The Biden administration has repeatedly stated that its attacks are defensive and seek to degrade the rebels' abilities to strike ships transiting the all-important trade route.

However, amid the war, Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria have also escalated their strikes on U.S. military in the region, prompting the White House to conduct retaliatory attacks, which have attracted condemnation not only from Iran, but Iraq as well.

On Monday, the U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting on the U.S. strikes in Iraq and Syria, as U.N. Political Affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo warned the escalating attacks were fueling the chances of miscalculation.

"We have witnessed near daily incidents in the region. These include some 165 attacks on United States facilities in Syria and Iraq, prompting U.S. strikes in the two countries," DiCarlo said.

On Jan. 28, a drone attack killed three U.S. service members and injured 40 others at a U.S. base in northeast Jordan. On Friday, the United States carried out 85 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran-backed militias. The strikes killed at least 39 people and injured dozens more, according to Iraqi officials.


"The U.S. said it had targeted command and control operations, intelligence centers and weapons facilities, among other sites, and that it was not seeking conflict in the Middle East or elsewhere," DiCarlo reported.

"I reiterate the secretary-general's call on all parties to step back from the brink and to consider the unbearable human and economic cost of a potential regional conflict," she said.

Deputy Permanent Representative Robert Wood of the United States described Friday's attacks as "necessary and proportional," calling the loss of three service members "devastating."

Wood said the U.S. targets were selected carefully to avoid civilian casualties.

"President [Joe] Biden has made clear that these strikes were the start of our response to the deadly attack on Tower 22 in northeastern Jordan," Wood said, adding that the strikes were "separate and distinct" from coalition strikes in Yemen in response to Houthi attacks on vessels in the Red Sea.

"Let me be clear, the U.S. does not desire more conflict in the region when we are actively working to contain and de-escalate the conflict in Gaza, and we are not seeking a direct conflict with Iran."

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