WASHINGTON: Multiple missiles were fired Saturday at three US warships in the Red Sea, but none hit any of the ships, the US military said, amid rising tensions with Yemen’s Huthi rebels.
The attempted missile strikes were the most serious escalation yet of America’s involvement in a deadly civil war that has killed more than 6,800 people, wounded more than 35,000 and displaced at least three million since a Saudi-led coalition launched military operations last year.
The Huthis have denied conducting the attacks; and it was unclear how many of the surface-to-surface missiles were fired at the USS Mason, USS Nitze and USS Ponce.
The USS Mason destroyer, which was sailing in international waters off Yemen’s coast earlier this week, used unspecified countermeasures against the incoming missiles, the official said.
Officials have stressed that Washington wants to avoid getting embroiled in yet another war in an already volatile region where America is waging wars to varying degrees in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
On Thursday, the US Navy launched five Tomahawk cruise missiles at three mobile radar sites in Huthi-controlled territory on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, after the Iran-backed rebels blasted rockets at the USS Mason twice in four days. The military insists these moves are taken out of self-defense.
Though the United States is providing logistical support to a Saudi-led coalition battling the rebels, Thursday’s launches marked the first time Washington has taken direct action against the Huthis.