UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said that the Royal Air Force has conducted targeted strikes against military facilities used by Houthi rebels in Yemen, calling it “limited, necessary and proportionate action in self-defence.”
Rishi Sunak said the UK will always stand up for “freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade.” He stated that the Houthis, despite the repeated warnings from the international community, continue to conduct attacks in the Red Sea, including against UK and US warships just this week.
Sunak’s statement comes after US military forces, along with the United Kingdom and with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands successfully carried out strikes against a number of targets in Yemen used by Houthi rebels.
In a statement, Rishi Sunak said, “Despite the repeated warnings from the international community, the Houthis have continued to carry out attacks in the Red Sea, including against UK and US warships just this week.”
“This cannot stand. The United Kingdom will always stand up for freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade. We have therefore taken limited, necessary and proportionate action in self-defence, alongside the United States with non-operational support from the Netherlands, Canada and Bahrain against targets tied to these attacks, to degrade Houthi military capabilities and protect global shipping,” he added.
Rishi Sunak stated that the Royal Navy continues to patrol the Red Sea as part of the multinational Operation Prosperity Guardian to deter further Houthi aggression. He urges the Houthis to cease their attacks and take steps to de-escalate.
He noted that Houthis in recent months have conducted a series of “dangerous and destabilising attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea.
In a statement, he stated, “In recent months, the Houthi militia have carried out a series of dangerous and destabilising attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea, threatening UK and other international ships, causing major disruption to a vital trade route and driving up commodity prices. Their reckless actions are risking lives at sea and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.”
UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said four Royal Air Force Typhoons carried out precision strikes on two Houthi military targets alongside US forces.
In a post shared on X, Shapps stated, “Four @RoyalAirForce Typhoons have conducted precision strikes on two Houthi military targets alongside US forces. The threat to innocent lives and global trade has become so great that this action was not only necessary, it was our duty to protect vessels & freedom of navigation.”
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said that the targeted strikes were a clear message that the escalation of attacks by the Houthi rebels against commercial vessels would not be tolerated.
“Today, at my direction, US military forces–together with the United Kingdom and with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands–successfully conducted strikes against a number of targets in Yemen used by Houthi rebels to endanger freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most vital waterways,” the US President said in a statement.
In his statement, Biden said these strikes were in direct response to “Houthi attacks against international maritime vessels in the Red Sea, including the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles for the first time in history.” He noted that these attacks have endangered US personnel, civilian mariners, and our partners, jeopardised trade, and threatened freedom of navigation.
Biden said, “Today’s defensive action follows this extensive diplomatic campaign and Houthi rebels’ escalating attacks against commercial vessels.”
“These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical commercial routes. I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary,” he added.
US Central Command said that US Central Command forces, in coordination with the United Kingdom and support from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and Bahrain, conducted joint strikes on Houthi targets on January 11 at 2:30 am (Sanaa time).
US Central Command said the action targeted radar systems, air defense systems, and storage and launch sites for one way attack unmanned aerial systems, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles.
In a statement posted on X, US Central Command stated, “On Jan. 11 at 2:30 a.m. (Sanaa time), U.S. Central Command forces, in coordination with the United Kingdom, and support from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and Bahrain conducted joint strikes on Houthi targets to degrade their capability to continue their illegal and reckless attacks on US and international vessels and commercial shipping in the Red Sea.”
“This multinational action targeted radar systems, air defense systems, and storage and launch sites for one way attack unmanned aerial systems, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles. Since Oct. 17, 2023, Iranian-backed Houthi militants have attempted to attack and harass 27 ships in international shipping lanes. These illegal incidents include attacks that have employed anti-ship ballistic missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. These strikes have no association with and are separate from Operation Prosperity Guardian, a defensive coalition of over 20 countries operating in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandeb Strait, and Gulf of Aden,” it added.
General Michael Erik Kurilla, USCENTCOM Commander, said, “We hold the Houthi militants and their destabilizing Iranian sponsors responsible for the illegal, indiscriminate, and reckless attacks on international shipping that have impacted 55 nations so far, including endangering the lives of hundreds of mariners, including the United States.”
General Kurilla further added, “Their illegal and dangerous actions will not be tolerated, and they will be held accountable.”
The Houthi rebels, who are an Iran-aligned group, started the strikes in retaliation for Israel’s Gaza conflict. The Houthis have said that they will not stop attacking until Israel ends the hostilities in Gaza.
Yemen’s Houthis have launched several drone and missile attacks at Israel, with most intercepted, since the war started. The Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, after thousands of Hamas terrorists crossed the border and killed scores of Israelis.