Washington: In “self defence”, three US warships on Thursday fired cruise missiles at a radar installations in Yemen that the Pentagon claimed was used by Yemeni insurgents to target another American warship earlier in.
The three sites — in Houthi-controlled territory — targeted by the US warships were located in remote areas, where there was little risk of civilian casualties or collateral damage, CNN quoted a US official as saying.
“These limited self-defence strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships, and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.
“The US will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic, as appropriate,” Cook said. According to the US officials, the attack was carried out using Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from the destroyer USS Nitze.
The initial assessments showed that three radar sites have been destroyed, the officials added. They said the strikes were authorised by President Barack Obama. The attack marks the first time when the US has fired at rebel targets since the start of the Yemen conflict in March 2015, BBC reported.
On Sunday, the USS Mason warship in the Red Sea was targeted by two missile attacks, CNN reported. The missile, however, missed the warship and landed in water. The USS Mason was fired on again on Wednesday while conducting routine operations in international waters, according to the Pentagon.
“The ship employed defensive countermeasures, and the missile did not reach USS Mason,” Cook said about Wednesday’s incident. “There was no damage to the ship or its crew. USS Mason will continue its operations.”
At the time, a Houthi spokesman told the Saba news agency that it had not targeted any warships. A Saudi-led multinational coalition, supported by the US, is carrying out an air campaign against the Houthi movement.
However, the US support for the coalition has come under strain following an air strike on a funeral hall in the capital Sanaa earlier this month that killed at least 140 persons. The Saudi government has not publicly acknowledged that its planes carried out the strike, but it has launched an inquiry.
It has also said it will facilitate the evacuation of Yemenis injured in the attack who need medical treatment abroad. The UN said at least 4,125 civilians have been killed and 7,207 injured since the coalition intervened in the conflict between forces loyal to Yemen’s internationally-recognised government and those allied to the Houthis in March 2015.