Houthi attack severely damages Lebanese-operated ship in Bab el-Mandeb Strait

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A missile attack by Yemen's Houthi rebels damaged a Belize-flagged Lebanese-operated cargo ship traveling through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, forcing the crew to abandon the ship, authorities said Monday.

The Iran-backed Houthis also claimed they shot down an American MQ-9 Reaper drone, something not immediately acknowledged by U.S. forces in the region. However, the Houthis have downed U.S. drones before.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military said it was conducting new airstrikes targeting the rebels, including one that targeted the first Houthi underwater drone seen since they began launching attacks on international shipping in November.

The ship targeted in the Houthi attack Sunday reported sustaining damage after "an explosion in close proximity to the vessel," the British military's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center reported.

"Military authorities report crew have abandoned the vessel," UKMTO said. "Vessel at anchor and all crew are safe."

Houthi Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree issued a statement claiming the attack, saying the vessel was "now at risk of potentially sinking."

"The ship suffered catastrophic damages and came to a complete halt," Saree said. "During the operation, we made sure that the ship's crew exited safely."

The private security firm Ambrey reported the British-registered, Lebanese-operated cargo ship had been on its way to Bulgaria after leaving Khorfakkan in the United Arab Emirates.

Ship-tracking data from MarineTraffic.com analyzed by The Associated Press identified the vessel targeted as the Rubymar. Its Beirut-based manager could not be immediately reached for comment. The Houthis later also identified the ship as the Rubymar.

Ambrey described the ship as being partially laden with cargo, but it wasn't immediately clear what it had been carrying. The ship had turned off its Automatic Identification System tracker while in the Persian Gulf early this month.

Since November, the rebels have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea and surrounding waters over Israel's war targeting Hamas in the Gaza Strip. They have frequently targeted vessels with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, imperiling shipping in a key route for trade among Asia, the Mideast and Europe. Those vessels have included at least one with cargo for Iran, its main benefactor.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military's Central Command reported it carried out five airstrikes targeting Houthi military equipment. Those strikes targeted mobile anti-ship cruise missiles, an explosive-carrying drone boat and an "unmanned underwater vessel," Central Command said.

"This is the first observed Houthi employment of a UUV since attacks began in Oct. 23," Central Command said.

Comments 1
Missing HellAndWaite 1 month

Anyone wonder what Hezbollah will do to defend Lebanon and the Lebanese onboard from this case of aggression? Anyone wonder what Mikati or Berri will insist be done? I don't .. <sarcasm> it is an obvious case of a Zionist cargo that would have been used to the detriment of the people in Gaza, so the attack was justified.</sarcasm>