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US forces carry out strikes against anti-ship cruise missiles, drone in Red Sea

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Central Command announced Thursday night that the U.S. military carried out additional strikes against anti-ship cruise missiles and drones in the Red Sea.

Between 6:00 and 7:15 p.m. local time, CENTCOM forces conducted two self-defense strikes against six mobile anti-ship cruise missiles that were ready for launch into the Red Sea.

Earlier in the evening, CENTCOM forces shot down a drone over the southern Red Sea in self-defense, according to CENTCOM.

“CENTCOM forces have determined that missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles pose an imminent threat to commercial shipping and U.S. Navy vessels in the region,” the command said. “These measures will protect freedom of navigation and make the high seas safer and more secure for the U.S. Navy and commercial vessels.”

The statement comes as Yemen-based Houthi militants continue a series of attacks on ships in the Red Sea over Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The ongoing attacks are causing significant delays, forcing merchant ships to reroute and incurring additional charges.

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The United States is building an international coalition to protect international shipping from Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. (Mass Communications Special Officer 2nd Class Moises Sandoval/U.S. Navy, via AP)

In January, the United States and its allies launched attacks on Houthi targets in Yemen, but the militants have continued their attacks relentlessly.

Earlier this week, a rocket exploded on the side of a ship sailing through the Red Sea. The British military’s British Maritime Trade Operations Center, which oversees shipping in the Middle East, reported that the attack occurred about 110 miles off the coast of the Houthi-held port city of Hodeidah. The rocket exploded several miles from the ship’s bow.

UKMTO said: “The crew and vessel are reported to be safe and are on their way to their next port of call.”

Houthi protest march in Yemen

Recruited Houthi fighters participate in a protest march against the US-led offensive on Yemen and the Israeli war in the Gaza Strip in Sanaa, Yemen, Wednesday, February 21. (AP/Osama Abdulrahman)

According to a report by private security firm Ambry, the targeted vessel appears to be a Marshall Islands-flagged, Greek-owned bulk carrier that was sailing in the area at the time. Ambry said another Panamanian-flagged, Emirati-owned ship was also nearby.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Central Command announced Tuesday night that American and allied warships shot down five bomb-laden Houthi drones in the Red Sea.

Last week, Houthi rebels severely damaged ships in the vital strait and shot down a U.S.-made drone worth tens of millions of dollars. The Houthis have insisted they will continue their attacks until Israel ceases combat operations in the Gaza Strip, a move that has outraged the Arab world and helped the group gain international recognition.

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The Houthis, a Shiite Zaidi group, captured Yemen’s capital in 2014 and have been fighting a Saudi-led coalition since 2015. Their Zaidi sect ran a 1,000-year-old kingdom in Yemen until 1962.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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