Ships attacked by missiles in Red Sea, US shoots down 4 drones

– Missiles were fired at commercial shipping traffic in the Red Sea on Saturday, the United States reported, adding that its patrol vessel in the area shot down four unmanned aerial drones originating from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

“On December 23 two Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles were fired into international shipping lanes in the Southern Red Sea from Houthi controlled areas of Yemen,” the US Central Command (Centcom) wrote on X. No ships reported being impacted.

It added that the US destroyer USS Laboon, which is part of the US-led military operation to protect maritime transport from Houthi attacks unleashed in retaliation for Israel’s assault on the Palestinian territory of Gaza, shot down four inbound drones “originating from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen” between 3-8 pm Sana’a time. There was no injuries or damage in that incident.

Centcom also said that at 8pm, its Naval Forces attended distress calls from two oil tankers under attack – one Norwegian owned and flagged vessel which reported a near miss, and a Gabon-owned, Indian-flagged tanker that said it had been hit, but with no injuries.

“These attacks represent the 14th and 15th attacks on commercial shipping by Houthi militants since Oct. 17,” Centcom said.

On Friday night the British Navy warned of two incidents near the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, which connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden, and urged caution for ships navigating through that route, one of the world’s most important.

Both reports from Centcom and the British Navy indicate approximately the same times in these incidents, which also occurred in the same area.

So far no group has claimed responsibility.

The Houthis said they would attack ships flying Israeli flags, that were owned by Israeli companies or destined for Israel in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, prompting large shipping companies to suspend their operations in the shipping lane.

The US announced last Tuesday the creation of an international coalition to protect commercial ships in the Red Sea from attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels

By Usmana Kousar