Yemen’sfired two missiles at a ship bound for a port in Iran on Monday, causing minor damage but no injuries to its crew, authorities said.
The attack on the Marshall Islands-flagged, Greek-operated bulk carrier Star Iris shows just how widely the Houthis now target ships traveling through the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait connecting the two waterways. The Star Iris had been heading from Brazil to Bandar Khomeini in Iran. Iran is the main backer and armer of the Houthis in Yemen’s yearslong war.
The Houthis sought to describe the Star Iris as an “American” vessel, without offering evidence, and said they targeted the ship with multiple missiles.
The Houthis’ military “will not hesitate to carry out more operations in retaliation to the Zionist crimes against our brothers in the Gaza Strip, as well as in response to the ongoing American-British aggression against our dear country,” Houthi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree said in a statement after the attack.
The British military’s United Kingdom Trade Operations center, which oversees Mideast waters, reported the attack, saying it happened while the Star Iris was traveling south through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait that separates East Africa from the Arabian Peninsula.
The ship’s captain “reports his vessel was attacked by two missiles and reports minor damage,” the UKTMO said. “Vessel and crew are safe. Vessel proceeding to next port of call.”
The attack on the Star Iris follows days in which no Houthi attacks on ships were reported. It’s unclear what caused the pause, though thetargeting the Houthis’ missile arsenals and launch sites in territory they hold.
Since November, the rebels have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea over Israel’s offensive in Gaza. 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.