Yemen’s Houthi rebels escalate maritime tensions with missile strike on US cargo ship


Yemen’s Houthi rebels intensified their maritime assaults by firing a missile that hit an American shipping carrier, the Eagle Gibraltar, in the Gulf of Aden, according to US Central Command.

The attack on the Marshall Islands-flagged carrier, owned by Connecticut-based Eagle Bulk, marks a significant escalation in the conflict affecting key Middle Eastern trade routes.

The US cargo ship, carrying steel products, sustained minor damage but reported no injuries, continuing its scheduled journey, CNN reported Monday.

This incident was part of a broader offensive that saw three missiles launched toward the Red Sea, with two failing to reach their target, as reported by Ambrey, a UK-based maritime security firm.

Eagle Bulk Shipping, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, confirmed the attack on its vessel approximately 100 miles offshore, describing it as being struck “by an unidentified projectile.”

The Houthi rebels, a Shiite group aligned with Iran, have not claimed responsibility for the attack on the Eagle Gibraltar. This latest strike follows a recent attempt by the Houthis to target the USS Laboon, a US destroyer operating in the southern Red Sea. The missile aimed at the USS Laboon was intercepted and destroyed by a US fighter jet.

US Central Command has not confirmed that the USS Laboon was the specific target of the Houthi missile, maintaining a cautious approach in attributing these attacks. The missile originated from the vicinity of Hodeida, a strategic Red Sea port city under Houthi control.

The US denies any knowledge of an alleged airstrike in Hodeida, suggesting the possibility of a malfunction in the Houthis’ own missile systems.

The attacks on both the USS Laboon and the Eagle Gibraltar come in the wake of US and UK-led airstrikes, launched in response to the Houthi rebels’ aggressive actions against shipping vessels. The airstrikes targeted Houthi weapon depots, radar installations, and command centers, striking over 60 targets across various locations.

While the full extent of the damage inflicted on the Houthi rebels is not fully disclosed, US officials reported that the strikes resulted in the death of five fighters and injured six others. A subsequent US strike targeted a Houthi radar site.

The Houthi rebels have been focusing their efforts on disrupting a critical maritime corridor that links Asian and Middle Eastern energy and cargo shipments to the Suez Canal and Europe. Their campaign began in November as an apparent show of support for Palestinian Hamas militants in Gaza, and has raised concerns about the potential for the conflict in Gaza to spread throughout the region.

Hezbollah, another Iran-backed group, has also been actively launching missile strikes against Israel, adding to the growing tensions in the Red Sea area.

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