Radar sites in Houthi controlled Yemen areas were destroyed by Tomahawk missiles launched from USS Nitze on October 13. US officials say that this was done in retaliation after US navy ships were targeted by missiles fired from rebel controlled territory. This was the maiden time America has fired weaponry against the Yemeni rebels.
US services and attack
The US has only offered refueling and logistical services to the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia. The latter are fighting the Houthis in Yemen. The Houthis are Shiite rebels. They are supported by their allies led by Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former President of Yemen. Washington has previously ignored these rebels as its attention was concentrated towards al-Qaida bases in Yemen. All these changed when missiles were launched from Houthi controlled areas in Yemen.
Two missiles were launched at USS Mason and USS Ponce. The former is a destroyer capable of launching guided missiles and the latter an amphibious warship. Sources in the US military confirmed that neither one of the two missiles actually reached the vessels. This attack was not the first one on those two ships. The vessels were attacked before by missiles as well on October 9. There were no reports on how the missiles were countered. No explanation was given whether they were stopped by US technological countermeasures or they dropped into the sea.
US officials said that there is almost zero risk of civilian casualties as the targeted three radar sites were located in remote areas. Collateral damage due to the attack was also negligible. The strikes were authorized by President Barack Obama. He did so at recommendation of Ash Carter and Joseph Dunford, the Secretary and Joint Chiefs of Staff respectively.
According to Peter Cook, the press secretary of the Pentagon, the US took this decision after a lot of deliberation. He said that these controlled self-defense strikes protected American personnel and ships. It also protected the navigational freedoms in this vital maritime route. He warned that the US will appropriately respond to any kind of threat to its ships and also commercial traffic. The United States will take all measures to maintain navigational freedom in Bab al-Mandeb and the Red Sea along with in other regions around the globe.
The Houthi spokesperson, Loai al-Shami, did not respond promptly on US strike. Admiral John Richardson, the US naval operations chief, said that these serious unjustified attacks will not stop them from completing the mission.