Houthis claim they hit British ship, downed US drone over Yemen

The Houthi group says it hit a British cargo ship that is believed to be significantly damaged and shot down a US drone over its territory as the Yemeni group continued to target ships in the Red Sea demanding an end to Israel’s war on Gaza.

The Houthi claims of attacks come as the United States carried out five strikes in Yemen late on Saturday night as part of Washington’s military campaign after Houthi targeting of Israeli-linked vessels disrupted global trade passing through the Red Sea. Houthis have now expanded their attacks to include US and UK ships after the two countries launched strikes on the war-torn Arab nation.

The Rubymar cargo ship suffered “catastrophic damages and came to a complete halt” after being targeted in a military operation, said Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree in a televised address on Monday.

“As a result of the extensive damage the ship suffered, it is now at risk of potential sinking in the Gulf of Aden. During the operation, we made sure that the ship’s crew exited safely.”

The British maritime security firm Ambrey confirmed that the Rubymar is a UK-registered, Belize-flagged and Lebanese-operated cargo ship that came under attack late on Sunday.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) also confirmed the incident – without naming the ship – and said it took place some 35 nautical miles (65km) south of al-Makha (Mocha) in Yemen.

“Military authorities report crew have abandoned the vessel. Vessel at anchor and all crew are safe,” it said. “Military authorities remain on scene to provide assistance”.

On Monday, Ambrey said another vessel, a US-owned and Greek-flagged bulk carrier had called for military assistance citing a “missile attack”. The UKMTO also confirmed the incident 100 nautical miles (185km) off Yemen’s Aden, with both sources reporting the vessel’s crew are safe.

The Houthi military also claimed to have downed a US-made MQ-9 Reaper attack drone over Yemen, which it said “was carrying out hostile missions against our country on behalf of the Zionist entity”.

It did not provide any evidence, but it has downed the same drone – which is worth over $30m – several times before.

The Pentagon acknowledged in November that an MQ-9 was shot down over the Red Sea. The Houthis, who seized power in Yemen’s capital Sanaa and the country’s north in 2014, possess surface-to-air missile systems capable of shooting down the advanced drones.

The Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah, had claimed a confirmed missile attack on a British oil tanker that the US identified as a Panamanian-flagged vessel carrying crude bound for India.

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