The US military launched new strikes against Houthi anti-ship missiles that were being prepared to launch into the Red Sea on Thursday, as growing tensions in the region’s sea lanes disrupted global trade and raised fears of supply bottlenecks that could reignite inflation.
The two Houthi anti-ship missiles targeted in the strikes were deemed “an imminent threat” to shipping and US Navy vessels in the region, according to a statement by the US Central Command. The strikes were the fifth round of US military action against the Iran-backed Houthi militia since November, when the group began attacking ships in and around the Red Sea in solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
The attacks have slowed trade between Asia and Europe and alarmed major powers in an escalation of the war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza. The Red Sea is a vital waterway for global commerce, connecting the Suez Canal to the Indian Ocean and carrying about 10% of world trade.
The latest strike came after the second attack this week on a US-operated vessel in the region. The Indian Navy said it had rescued the crew of the Genco Picardy, a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker, in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday. The vessel came under attack by an unmanned aerial vehicle, sparking a fire onboard.
The Houthis have threatened to target US ships in response to American and British strikes on their positions. The group claims to have sophisticated weapons, including drones, ballistic missiles and naval mines, that can hit targets across the region.