Joe Biden admits US airstrikes on Houthis have not stopped shipping attacks



  A fire following an airstrike in Yemen’s capital Sana’a last week Credit: Wang Shang/Xinhua News Agency / eyevine

US president vows to continue bombing Yemen after an American-owned merchant ship became the latest vessel to be hit .US President Joe Biden has admitted US airstrikes have not stopped Houthi attacks on shipping in and around the Red Sea – but vowed to continue targeting the Iran-backed rebels until they ended their assaults.

American forces conducted two further strikes on Houthi targets on Thursday morning, hitting 16 missiles that had been loaded to fire on vessels in the Bab El-Mandeb Strait.

US intelligence officials believe that two initial strikes on Houthi drone and missile sites last week left the group with around three-quarters of its capabilities intact, raising questions about the efficacy of the operation.

Asked about the bombings by reporters at the White House on Thursday, the US president said: “Well, when you say ‘working’, are they stopping the Houthis? No.

“Are they gonna continue? Yes,” he added.

The first strike against the rebel group last Thursday saw four RAF Typhoons sent from an airbase in Cyprus to join the operation, hitting targets in Houthi-controlled northwestern Yemen.

Despite assurances from Grant Shapps, the De fence Secretary, that the UK was willing to attack again if necessary, the US has since acted unilaterally in the region.

A defense source said the UK had not been asked to participate in further strikes because the most recent action taken was smaller than the initial response and had not required international co-operation.

US forces conducted two strikes on Thursday, bringing the total to six assaults on the Houthis since last week.

They were conducted against projectiles which had already been loaded to fire at ships in the Red Sea, a US Central Command statement said.

“These missiles on launch rails presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and US Navy ships in the region and could have been fired at any time, prompting US forces to exercise their inherent right and obligation to defend themselves,” the statement said.

Houthi commanders have said the group’s strikes are a show of solidarity with Palestinians over the war in Gaza.

The group launched two anti-ship ballistic missiles at a US-owned tanker ship late on Thursday that hit the water near the vessel but caused no injuries or damage, the US military said.

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