The US military has said in a statement that a missile launched from Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen targeted a Norwegian commercial tanker vessel, in the Red Sea causing a fire and damage but no injuries.
The attack on the tanker STRINDA occurred around 2100 GMT, roughly 111 kilometers north of the Bab al-Mandab Strait connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, according to a US official. According to a second US official, the STRINDA was able to move under its own power in the hours following the attack.
“There were no US ships in the vicinity at the time of the attack, but the (US Navy destroyer) USS MASON responded to the M/T STRINDA’s mayday call and is currently rendering assistance,” said the US military’s Central Command, which oversees American forces in the Middle East, in a statement posted on social media platform X.
Outside of business hours, the chemical tanker’s Norwegian owner, Mowinckel Chemical Tankers, and manager Hansa Tankers could not be reached for comment.
HouthisThe Iran-aligned Houthis have entered the Israel-Hamas conflict, which has engulfed the Middle East since October 7, targeting vessels in crucial maritime lanes and launching drones and missiles at Israel.
Houthi Rebels target all ships headed to Israel
On Saturday, the Iran-backed Houthis announced they would target all ships headed to Israel, regardless of nationality, and advised foreign shipping corporations to avoid interacting with Israeli ports.
It was unclear whether the STRINDA had any ties to Israel.
The group, which dominates much of Yemen, claims the assaults are in support of Palestinians and has pledged to continue until Israel ceases its offensive on the Gaza Strip – more than 1,000 miles (1609.34 km) from the Houthi capital of Sanaa.
Since their Palestinian affiliate Hamas attacked Israel, the Houthis are one of numerous factions in the Iran-aligned “Axis of Resistance” that have targeted Israeli and US objectives.
Three commercial vessels came under attack in international seas during the first week of December, causing a US Navy destroyer to intervene. Last month, the Houthis also captured a British-owned cargo ship with ties to an Israeli enterprise.
Iran and the Houthis Rebels
The Houthis, backed by Iran, have been involved in a prolonged conflict in Yemen. They gained control of the capital, Sanaa, in 2014, sparking a war that has had far-reaching consequences.
The rebels have periodically targeted ships in the Red Sea, and their attacks have intensified amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas. The Houthi rebels’ actions have prompted questions about the lack of retaliation from the United States and have raised concerns about the safety of maritime trade in the Middle East.
The Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah, are a Shia Muslim group that has been fighting against the internationally recognized government of Yemen, which is supported by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia.
Iran has been accused by Saudi Arabia, the United States, and other Western countries of providing military and financial support to the Houthi rebels. This support allegedly includes the supply of weapons, training, and other forms of assistance. Iran, however, has denied these accusations, stating that while it supports the Houthi cause politically, it does not provide them with military assistance.
The conflict in Yemen has resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis, with widespread displacement, food insecurity, and other challenges affecting the civilian population. International efforts have been made to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict, but the situation remains complex and volatile.