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regular-article-logo Monday, 15 April 2024

Joint US, UK strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen ‘self-defence’: Rishi Sunak

The United Kingdom will always stand up for freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade. We have therefore taken limited, necessary and proportionate action in self-defence, says Sunak

PTI London Published 12.01.24, 06:26 PM
Rishi Sunak.

Rishi Sunak. File picture

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Friday that the country’s joint air strikes with the US against Houthi military targets in Yemen overnight was a “necessary and proportionate action in self-defence.” The US-led strikes are the first against the Houthi militia since it started targeting international shipping in the Red Sea from November 2023.

Sunak accused the Iranian-backed group of threatening UK ships as the US Air Force said more than 60 targets at 16 locations used by Houthis in Yemen were struck.

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“Despite the repeated warnings from the international community, the Houthis have continued to carry out attacks in the Red Sea, including against UK and US warships just this week,” said Sunak.

“This cannot stand. The United Kingdom will always stand up for freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade. We have therefore taken limited, necessary and proportionate action in self-defence, alongside the United States with non-operational support from the Netherlands, Canada and Bahrain against targets tied to these attacks, to degrade Houthi military capabilities and protect global shipping,” he said.

“The Royal Navy continues to patrol the Red Sea as part of the multinational Operation Prosperity Guardian to deter further Houthi aggression, and we urge them to cease their attacks and take steps to de-escalate,” he added.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said RAF typhoons conducted two precision strikes on Houthi sites, including an airfield used to launch drones and missiles over the Red Sea, and another site used to launch attack drones.

“The detailed results of the strikes are being assessed, but early indications are that the Houthis' ability to threaten merchant shipping has taken a blow,” the MoD said.

A joint statement from the governments of the UK, US, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand and Republic of Korea reiterated that despite strong warnings, the launch of numerous missiles and one-way attack aerial vehicles against ships in the Red Sea, including US and UK vessels, had continued.

The statement noted: “In response to continued illegal, dangerous, and destabilising Houthi attacks against vessels, including commercial shipping, transiting the Red Sea, the armed forces of the United States and United Kingdom, with support from the Netherlands, Canada, Bahrain, and Australia, conducted joint strikes in accordance with the inherent right of individual and collective self-defence, consistent with the UN Charter, against a number of targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

“These precision strikes were intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities the Houthis use to threaten global trade and the lives of international mariners in one of the world’s most critical waterways.” The government said the strikes reflect a shared commitment to freedom of navigation, international commerce, and defending the lives of mariners from illegal and unjustifiable attacks.

In response, Houthi officials have warned the UK and US will “pay a heavy price.” House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle called for British members of Parliament to be updated on military strikes “at the earliest possible opportunity.” However, the UK government has indicated that no further strikes are “immediately planned.” Earlier this week, the UN Security Council had passed a resolution demanding an immediate end to Houthi attacks, endorsing the right of UN member states to defend their vessels.

Since November 2023, the Iranian-backed Houthis have been attacking merchant and commercial vessels in the Red Sea impeding global commerce and undermining navigational rights. They have said they launched the attacks with the aim of ending Israel's devastating air-and-ground offensive in the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 23,000 people.

Israel launched the offensive after Hamas militants carried out a large-scale attack on Israel on October 7 that killed 1200 people and took around 250 hostage.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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