Latest attacks on civilian ships demonstrate the Iran-backed group’s determination to continue its campaign.
Yemen’s Houthis say they have fired missiles at two civilian ships in the Red Sea.
The attacks claimed by the Houthis on Tuesday, one on a British vessel and one on an American ship, are the latest in a campaign that they said is motivated by Israel’s war on Gaza. The Iran-aligned armed group has stated its determination to continue the attacks despite several air strikes by the US and its allies patrolling the Red Sea.
The ongoing campaign is helping to stoke simmering tensions across the Middle East. It is also disrupting world trade because the Red Sea is a major route for container ships.
The Houthi’s military spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, confirmed the attacks on the two ships and repeated the threat to carry out more “self-defence” operations against “hostile” American and British targets.
The attacks took place west of the Yemeni port of Hodeidah. Saree said naval missiles hit the Morning Tide, a Barbados-flagged, British-owned cargo ship, and the Star Nasia, a Marshall Islands-flagged American ship.
The owner of the Morning Tide, British firm Furadino Shipping, told the Reuters news agency the ship was currently sailing without problems but gave no further information.
British maritime security firm Ambrey said the British ship had performed evasive manoeuvres and continued its journey. No injuries were reported.
The Houthis have launched dozens of missile, drone and boat attacks on commercial ships linked with Israel in addition to US and UK military warships since November 19.
The campaign has caused major headaches for global shipping firms, forcing them to suspend transits through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and reroute over longer, more expensive journeys around Southern Africa.
Operations will continue “against Israeli shipping or those heading to the ports of occupied Palestine until the siege is lifted and the aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is stopped”, Saree said.
Last month, the US and Britain began striking Houthi targets in Yemen in retaliation.
The US military confirmed its latest attack, conducted on Monday, against two explosive Houthi naval drones that it said presented an imminent threat to navy ships and merchant vessels.
The US government has now designated the Yemeni group as “global terrorists”.
Amid the threat of extended shipping disruptions, the European Union is planning to launch its own Red Sea naval mission by the middle of February.