Yemen Houthis launch drone ‘swarm’ against Israel

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s Houthi militia on Saturday claimed to have launched a volley of explosive-rigged drones toward the Israeli Red Sea city of Eilat.

Militia spokesperson Yahiya Sarae said that “sensitive” locations in Eilat had been targeted with a “swarm” of drones.

He vowed that the militia will carry out drone and missile attacks on Israel and Israel-bound ships in the Red Sea until the Israelis end their assault on Gaza.

“Yemeni Armed Forces affirm that their military operations against the Zionist entity will continue until its aggression against our steadfast brothers in the Gaza Strip ceases,” Sarae said in a televised statement.

The latest Houthi claim came only hours after Egyptian media reported that Egypt’s air defense shot down a drone off the coast of Dahab on the southeast Sinai Peninsula, but did not say where the device was launched.

On Saturday, UK Secretary of State for Defense Grant Shapps said that a British warship, HMS Diamond, shot down a suspected drone targeting commercial ships in the Red Sea.

He said that the destroyer had arrived in the area to boost international maritime security amid Houthi attacks on shipping.

“The recent spate of illegal attacks represents a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security in the Red Sea. The UK remains committed to repelling these attacks to protect the free flow of global trade,” Shapps said on social media X.

The Houthis have fired drones and ballistic missiles at commercial ships in the Red Sea in a bid to stop vessels bound for Israel from passing through the waterway.

In its almost daily alerts on Houthi attacks, the US Central Command said on Saturday that the militia launched two ballistic missiles against commercial ships on Friday and also warned a commercial ship to change course.

One of the missiles hit the Liberian-flagged MV Palatium 3, causing a fire but no deaths.

The Houthis also told the northbound Liberian-flagged MSC Alanya to turn south or risk being attacked.

Responding to reports that the US is forming a multinational naval group to secure the Red Sea against militia attacks, Houthi commanders vowed to attack those forces and step up attacks on shipping if Israel refuses to withdraw from Gaza. 

Mohammed Al-Qadri, commander of the Houthi Coastal Defense Brigade, told Houthi-affiliated Al-Maserah TV on Friday that the militia is not “frightened” of US threats to strike its areas of Yemen and is preparing to launch the “third phase” of its attacks on Israel. 

During the initial phase, the Houthis launched missiles and drones against Israel, while also attempting to block Israeli-operated or owned ships. The second phase included strikes on all ships heading toward Israel, regardless of nationality.

The Houthis provided no details on the third phase.

Meanwhile, Yemeni Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani slammed Iran’s Defense Minister Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani for claiming that Iran has “predominance” in the Red Sea.

“These statements confirm the validity of what we have repeatedly mentioned about the Iranian regime’s directing, planning, financing, and arming the terrorist Houthi militia’s coup against the Yemeni state,” the Yemeni minister said on X.  

Last week, Iran’s defense minister threatened to take action against a planned US-led naval coalition to safeguard the Red Sea from Houthi assaults, claiming that Iran had the upper hand in the area.

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