Details remain very scarce, but what we do know is that a naval vessel belonging to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been successfully struck by Houthi Rebels. The ship was operating in the Red Sea off the embattled Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. It is unclear just how extensive the damage to the vessel is, if there are any casualties, and what method of attack was used at this time.
The incident occurred as Saudi-led coalition forces were making an amphibious assault near the city, part of an ongoing blitz to clear Houthi rebels from the area that has included past amphibious landings. According to the Houthis, a pair of missiles struck a landing ship as it was conveying equipment and personnel ashore, leading to the retreat of a flotilla of coalition vessels and a search and rescue operation. The coalition has yet to comment on the attack.
In the past, Houthi rebels have used both anti-ship cruise missiles and explosive-laden remote-controlled boats of Iranian origin to attack ships transiting the Red Sea. Naval mines are also known to be present in the highly strategic channel near the Mandeb Strait, a tight stretch of water that connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden.
Houthi forces have also used improvised surface-to-air missile systems captured from the Yemeni military to attack Saudi-led coalition aircraft operating over the country.
Everything from U.S. Navy destroyers to tanker ships have been attacked by Houthi rebels in the southern Red Sea, with Saudi Arabian naval ships being struck a number of times. But the first wave of this relatively high-tech assault by irregular Houthi forces occurred back on October 2nd, 2016 when the high-speed logistics catamaran HSV-2 Swift was destroyed by an anti-ship missile. The vessel belonged to the UAE at the time but had previously served with the United States Navy as an experimental testing vessel. HSV-2’s burnt-out carcass was eventually towed to Greece for salvage.
The potential loss of another UAE ship would be a major development in the Yemeni civil war that has now dragged on for over three years. It also would be the first successful strike on a coalition ship since Donald Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal and is now looking to counter Iran’s extra-territorial military excursions in the region with heavier-handed measures.
We will update this article when more information becomes available.
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