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Pentagon aware of attacks claimed by Houthis on ships in Red Sea

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney transits the Suez Canal, Egypt October 18, 2023. U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aaron Lau/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

By Aziz El Yaakoubi

RIYADH (Reuters) – The Pentagon said it was aware of reports regarding attacks on an American warship and commercial vessels in the Red Sea on Sunday, as Yemen’s Houthi group claimed drone and missile attacks on two Israeli vessels in the area.

“We’re aware of reports regarding attacks on the USS Carney and commercial vessels in the Red Sea and will provide information as it becomes available,” the Pentagon said.

Yemen’s Houthi movement said its navy had attacked two Israeli ships, Unity Explorer and Number 9, with an armed drone and a naval missile.

A spokesperson for the group’s military said the two ships were targeted after they rejected warnings, without elaborating.

In a broadcast statement the spokesperson said the attacks were in response to the demands of the Yemeni people and calls from Islamic nations to stand with the Palestinian people.

An Israeli military spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The reported incident follows a series of attacks in Middle Eastern waters since war broke out between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Oct. 7.

An Israeli-linked cargo ship was seized last month by the Houthis, allies of Iran. The group, which controls most of Yemen’s Red Sea coast, had previously fired ballistic missiles and armed drones at Israel and vowed to target more Israeli vessels.

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The Bahamas-flagged bulk carrier Unity Explorer is owned by Unity Explorer Ltd and managed by London-based Dao Shipping Ltd, LSEG data showed. The ship was scheduled to arrive in Singapore on Dec. 15.

Number 9, which was headed to Suez port, is a Panama-flagged container ship owned by Number 9 Shipping Ltd and managed by Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK-based Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the data showed.

Both owners and managers of the two vessels could not be immediately reached for comment.

ABC News, citing a U.S. official, said the USS Carney had been involved in multiple engagements involving Houthi attacks on commercial vessels.

“In at least two circumstances, the Carney successfully shot down (drones) headed in its direction,” the official told ABC.

British maritime security company Ambrey and sources said earlier that a bulk carrier and a container ship had been hit by at least two drones while sailing in the Red Sea.

Ambrey said the container ship had reportedly suffered damage from a drone attack about 63 miles northwest of the northern Yemeni port of Hodeidah.

Britain’s Maritime Trade Operations agency (UKMTO) said it had received reports of a drone attack in the Red Sea’s Bab al-Mandab strait.

Last week a U.S. Navy warship responded to a distress call from an Israeli-managed commercial tanker in the Gulf of Aden after it had been seized by armed individuals.

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