Yemen's Houthi group says 10 fighters killed by U.S. Navy forces in Red Sea

(Xinhua) 09:07, January 01, 2024

The screenshot captured from a video released by the Houthi group on Dec. 26, 2023, shows Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea making a statement in Sanaa, Yemen. (Xinhua)

SANAA, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- Yemen's Houthi group said Sunday that 10 of its fighters were killed by U.S. naval forces in the Red Sea while they were trying to hijack a commercial ship in international waters.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said in a statement broadcast live by the group's al-Masirah TV that the U.S. forces attacked three boats belonging to the Houthi rebels.

He said the rebels were "performing their humanitarian and moral duty" to prevent Israel-related ships from passing through the Red Sea, "in solidarity and support for the Palestinian people."

The spokesman said the U.S. "bears the consequences of this crime," and that the "military movements in the Red Sea to protect Israeli ships will not prevent Yemen (Houthi militia) from performing its humanitarian duty in support of Palestine and Gaza."

The Houthi official also stated that the rebel group targeted the cargo ship "with appropriate naval missiles," without saying whether the missiles hit the target.

People gather in a rally to support Palestinians amid the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in Sanaa, Yemen, Oct. 20, 2023. (Photo by Mohammed Mohammed/Xinhua)

Earlier in the day, the U.S. Central Command said its naval forces responded to a distress call from a merchant boat in the Red Sea reporting being under a Houthi attack, sinking three Houthi boats and killing all their crews.

The Singapore-flagged "container ship MAERSK HANGZHOU issued a second distress call in less than 24 hours reporting being under attack by four Iranian-backed Houthi small boats ... originating from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen," the U.S. Central Command wrote on the social media platform X.

The Houthi militants fired "small arms weapons at the MAERSK HANGZHOU, getting to within 20 meters of the vessel, and attempted to board the vessel," it said.

"U.S. helicopters from the USS EISENHOWER (CVN 69) and GRAVELY (DDG 107) responded to the distress call and in the process of issuing verbal calls to the small boats, the small boats fired upon the U.S. helicopters ... The U.S. Navy helicopters returned fire in self-defense, sinking three of the four small boats and killing the crews. The fourth boat fled the area," it added.

"There was no damage to U.S. personnel or equipment," the U.S. Central Command noted.

An Israeli Navy missile boat is seen in the area of the Red Sea on Nov. 1, 2023. Israel sent missile boats to the Red Sea, the army said on Wednesday (Nov. 1) after Houthi forces in Yemen fired missiles and drones toward Israel's resort city of Eilat. (IDF/Handout via Xinhua)

Hours earlier, the U.S. Central Command said the container ship reported that it was struck by a missile while transiting the southern Red Sea, and there were no injuries among its crew.

"While responding, the USS GRAVELY shot down two anti-ship ballistic missiles fired from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen toward the ships," the U.S. Central Command said in another post on X.

"This is the 23rd illegal attack by the Houthis on international shipping since Nov. 19," it added.

The Houthi militia has escalated their attacks on Israel-linked ships since the Israel-Hamas conflict broke out on Oct. 7, demanding that food and medicine aid be allowed to enter the Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip.

The Houthi rebel militia controls much of northern Yemen, including the capital Sanaa and the strategic Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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