A US warplane shot down a cruise missile fired by Yemen’s Houthis toward a US destroyer in the Red Sea on Monday, in the first attack on a US naval vessel by the Iran-backed group since the US and UK launched airstrikes on Houthi targets last week.
The Pentagon said that the USS Mason, a guided-missile destroyer, detected and destroyed the incoming missile in international waters, and that there were no injuries or damage to the ship. The US Central Command said that the missile was launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, and that it was the latest in a series of “unprovoked attacks” by the rebels.
The US and UK carried out joint strikes on Houthi radar sites and weapons depots on Thursday and Friday, in response to previous missile attacks on US and Saudi ships in the Red Sea. The strikes marked the first direct US military intervention in Yemen’s civil war, which has been raging since 2014.
The Houthi rebels, who are allied with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have been fighting against the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is backed by a Saudi-led coalition. The coalition has been conducting a bombing campaign against the Houthis since March 2015, with the support of the US and UK.
The Houthi rebels have vowed to retaliate against the US and UK strikes, and have accused them of being complicit in the Saudi-led coalition’s “aggression” and “war crimes” in Yemen. The rebels have also claimed to have the capability to hit targets inside Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the main coalition partners.
The US and UK have said that their strikes were aimed at protecting their ships and personnel in the region, and that they were not taking sides in the conflict. They have also called for a political solution to the crisis, and urged all parties to resume the UN-brokered peace talks that collapsed in August.